Residents of the Goodall Wooten dormitory say the building is closing after decades of providing affordable housing near the UT campus.
Sebastian Caicedo, a resident assistant at the dorm, was tasked with telling his friends and neighbors they had to move.
“My floor took it pretty well, I think, all things considered,” he said. “It just changes their plans.”
Caicedo, a student at Austin Community College, said he and other resident assistants got the news at their monthly meeting in April. As first reported by The Daily Texan, the building’s managers gave residents about a month’s notice that everyone would have to get out by May 16. The news came as many college students were preparing for final exams.
“Because the leases are over, or the term is only until May 16 … they’re not legally obligated to give us any more time or give us a written notice,” said Caicedo, who plans to head back to his family’s house in Katy for a bit. “It’s not an eviction as much as an end of term.”
Goodall Wooten management did not reply to multiple interview requests.
With little information being shared, there has been a lot of speculation about what’s going to happen to the building. As of Tuesday afternoon, no city permits had been filed for the property, and there are no records of it being sold. Travis County records show the Goodall Wooten is valued at more than $5.2 million.
Among the quickly changing storefronts on Guadalupe Street, the dormitory has remained a constant for 62 years. Caicedo said some residents have already left, but there are about 50 people still living in the dorm. Management has given some residents brief extensions while they search for new homes.
Still, it will be hard to find housing in West Campus with comparable rents. The cheapest room at the Goodall Wooten goes for just under $400 a month.
Jennifer Beardsley, another resident assistant, said the campus community is losing critical low-cost housing.
“I would say affordable housing stock in West Campus is not enough, especially considering a quarter of UT students are food insecure,” she said. “It’s reasonable to say that those same students are housing-stressed.”
Just next door to the dorm, at the Goodall Wooten barbershop, owner James Nelson says it’s business as usual.
“The shop’s been here since 1964, and I’ve been here since 1992," he said.
Nelson said his lease for the barbershop is in place till 2021, so he doesn’t expect any changes to affect him. Down the line, he said, he’ll move the shop if necessary.
“We’ll find a place, and we’ll continue the name Wooten on it,” he said. “Wooten forever is the way I look at it. Wooten Barbers continues.”