‘Startup City’: Accelerated Growth Strains Austin

Monday - 28/12/2020 07:03
Arrival of Oracle, Apple, Tesla deal new challenges to city’s struggle to stay affordable—and ‘weird’

AUSTIN, Texas—A few years ago, some blocks of Austin’s South Congress Avenue featured a castle-themed wax museum and comic book shop, a neighborhood bar with $1 taco deals, an auto shop and, in season, a Santa Claus on horseback.

Then, as at so many other places in Austin, the construction cranes came.

Those blocks recently reopened with a strip of modern urban buildings with shops offering national brands from Lululemon to Le Labo perfumes. The $2,000+ private membership club Soho House and an Hermès store are on the way. Office tenants include accounting and consulting firm Deloitte and private-equity firm Tritium Partners LLC.

The project’s developer, Andrew Joblon, said he saw a need for national luxury brands in a place where more well-paid executives were coming. To Brad Somers, a manager of the Twomey Auto Works that was there 28 years before its lease was terminated, it was another reminder that some longtime Austinites can’t afford their own city any more. 

“It pains me to drive by it,” he said.


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