Gentrification

Photo courtesy Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle

From Texas Standard:

Many Texas cities have neighborhoods that have been changed by gentrification: Bishop Arts District in Dallas and East Austin are just some examples. And now, Houston’s Independence Heights – considered Texas’ first black city – could face a similar fate.

Big Easy Bar and Grill owner Darold Gordon
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Chef Darold Gordon set up shop in East Austin after moving from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Over the last 15 years, he has seen the businesses and population in the neighborhood change.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Development has overtaken Rainey Street for the past decade and a half, but musician John Contreras was long a stalwart in the face of expansion and said he never planned on selling his home at 71 Rainey St. But now it's for sale. 

Hazel O'Neil for KUT

Nearly 30 people leaned against the railing on the second floor of a bar made out of shipyard containers. It was a warm Saturday night in September. Down the street, people sat on the front porch of Icenhauer’s, which pours grilled-pineapple-infused tequila.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A new study from the University of Texas points to widespread gentrification in Austin, stretching from northern neighborhoods to the eastern edge of South Austin. Researchers say the groups most impacted by displacement are low-income African-American and Hispanic renters.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

In one rapidly changing East Austin neighborhood, dogs now outnumber children nearly 2 to 1, according to a new report from UT’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin City Council today approved a revised version of a proposal from Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo to create a mortgage-assistance program for low-income homeowners.

The city manager will research similar programs used in other cities and return to City Council with a proposal by September.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Gilbert and Jane Rivera bought their home in the Rosewood neighborhood of East Austin in 1983 for $39,000. Seventeen years later, it was worth $79,000. Another 17 years later, it was worth over $500,000.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In the days after the Austin bombings, Jesus Valles couldn’t stop thoughts from buzzing around like bees in his head. He made sense of his feelings the best way he knew how: He sat down at his computer and began to write a public Facebook post about Austin.

“Austin is an exhausting place where racism smiles at you and does yoga and is a kind teacher and is such a good actor and is just trying to help you and just wants to know why you’re so upset,” Valles wrote.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin City Council passed a resolution Thursday that aims to help bring families displaced by gentrification back to the city.

The measure calls for giving preference for affordable housing to displaced people who have generational ties to certain neighborhoods. Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, who wrote the resolution, calls it a “right to return” ordinance.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Since 2000, the City of Austin has had a lot of ideas about how to slow down gentrification. A task force recommended in 2002, for example, that the city educate residents about available property tax exemptions. In 2008, City Council members asked the city manager to find city-owned land suitable for affordable housing.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

When we talk about gentrification in Austin, the conversation tends to center around rapid redevelopment on the city’s East Side. But residents of other neighborhoods near the city center have their eyes on the changes that Austin’s new land development code, CodeNEXT, could bring.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

I was born in Seton Hospital in Austin on Nov. 13, 1982. I grew up in Dove Springs, a neighborhood on Austin’s Southeast Side. When I was growing up, being an Austin native didn't mean much, because everyone was an Austin native. Among the kids in Dove Springs, it was assumed you had always been in the neighborhood.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

It's a pretty uneventful morning at the corner of 12th and Chicon. Buses are running smoothly and on time. There's even a new art gallery in the area.

But there was a time – not too long ago – when prostitution, drugs, and other illegal activities were going down in the open, in the middle of the day.

flickr.com/wallyg

The overall Austin population exploded between 2000 and 2010, growing by more than 20 percent. But a University of Texas study [PDF] finds that Austin was the only U.S. city experiencing double-digit population growth that saw its African-American population not only not keep pace, but actually decline.

"Among the ten fastest-growing major cities in the United States, Austin stood out in one crucial respect: it was the only such city that suffered a net loss in its African- American population," says study author Dr. Eric Tang. "Indeed, between 2000 and 2010, Austin was a statistical outlier; it was the only major city in the United States to experience a double-digit rate of general population growth coincident with African-American population decline." 

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Dove Springs in Southeast Austin is just six miles from downtown – what many real estate agents consider a prime location. But the area is also one of the poorest parts of Austin. And for decades, it's had a less than desirable reputation.

Despite all that, change is coming to Dove Springs – with some believing they're witnessing the beginning of gentrification.

The area has traditionally been filled with low-income renters, many who are recent immigrants and don't speak English. Data may still point to those facts. But on the ground, the neighborhood is going through what many believe is a fast transformation.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin City Council had a long day at the dais yesterday, with a meeting that sputtered along for the better part of 15 hours.

"Stealth dorms," fee waivers, economic incentives, an officer-involved shooting, the MoPac sound wall and  even a proclamation for KUT's own Cactus Cafe. 

With that in mind, here's a rundown of the council action, and inaction, from yesterday.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez, KUT

The Tejano Trails in East Austin are meant to highlight landmarks and legends of the area, but they’re not easy to find. Groups are now working to make the history of this neighborhood more visible under the guidance of a National Parks Service program. 

Last fall, the Scoot Inn, the oldest continuing running bar in Central Texas, made for a fitting location for an event promoting the next phase of Austin’s Tejano Trails

Bobby Foster Jr. can often be found reading the paper on a wooden bench outside Murry's grocery store on the corner of Sixth and H streets northeast in Washington, D.C.

"The sun shines over here this time of day," says Foster, a retired cook. "It's always good when the sun shines."

Murry's has been an anchor in this neighborhood for decades — during the crack wars of the 1980s and the urban blight that followed, when most other businesses packed up and left. Foster has been somewhat of an anchor, too. He's lived here for 54 years.

Kate McGee, KUT News

Enrollment at many East Austin schools has been declining in recent years. This week, demographers predict those neighborhoods will continue to see a decline in children for the next five to ten years.

Some schools are projected to see enrollment drop to under 75 percent of capacity, including Metz elementary school in the Holly neighborhood just off East Cesar Chavez. Student enrollment there has declined by more than 100 students — or about 22 percent — in the past decade, which worries parents and teachers who are watching the neighborhood change around them. 

“Most of those families who can afford to live here in and around Metz, the demographers tell us are middle and high income families who tend to not have kids or don’t have kids young enough to attend elementary school," Metz Elementary parent Luke Muszkiewicz says.

View E. 12th Street Properties in a larger map

Two tracts of land on East 12th Street were the focus of a special meeting today by the Urban Renewal Board, a panel whose responsibility is to "eliminate slum and blighting influence" in parts of the city.  The board took possession of the properties years ago in an effort to revitalize the neighborhood. Critics have accused the board and other agencies of taking too long to turn over the properties, and have questioned their role in the face of Eastside gentrification.

The  board voted to sell two tracts of property on East 12th Street two completely different ways. The stretch of land on the 1100 hundred block will be sold to the highest bidder.

The lot on the 1300 hundred block will be opened for a request of proposals. That means the board will take into consideration not only the how much money is being offered for the land, but also what the developer plans on doing with it and how that could affect the neighborhood. The board could take a lower bid if they think the development plan is a better fit for the area.

Photo courtesy flickr.com/allaboutgeorge

In East Austin, there’s a sight more common than new condos, food trailers and Tejano bars repurposed into young, hip "dives:" It's the poster seen above.

“Artists & Hipsters: How are you helping to gentrify East Austin? What are you doing to fight it?,” the poster reads. The earliest date we can find for a photo of the poster on Flickr goes back to 2008, but longtime Austinites (including this author) remember seeing the poster even before then.

The poster has captured the attention of one eastside artist, who’s looking to create a dialogue around its message.

Photo by Diana Parkhouse http://www.flickr.com/photos/digallagher/

A group of East Austin activists have a plan to slow gentrification in their neighborhood: pay the property tax of people who would otherwise be forced out.

A campaign launched today by former Austin City Council member Raul Alvarez aims to raise $50,000 to help about 20 homeowners, mostly retired people living on fixed incomes, get up to date on their tax bills.

The ninth annual East Austin Studio Tour (also known as E.A.S.T.) kicks off tomorrow. It's a free, self-guided tour of more than 150 artist studios east of I-35. E.A.S.T. runs from Saturday, November 13 until Sunday, November 21.