Monday, June 23, 2008

Cool houses, parts 2 & 3

[Just added 6/25: related news]
Part 2 - South Austin Condomania
Saturday all we did was go to Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse (one of our favorite places) and whine about the destruction of the South Austin style that is going on. From right there, you can see these two sights:

This used to be a really funky-looking video store. It had this mural that I loved. Click to enlarge:

Now it's empty and awaiting tear-down, soon to be replaced with "24 luxury residences" that look pretty much like all the other gawd-awful condo developments that are spreading like wildfire.

This is the view directly across the street from the coffeehouse. Another tear-down to make way for... something... something high-end fitting the standard of all the new stuff being built everywhere.

This is over on Barton Springs Rd. where they took out Shady Grove RV park to put in Barton Place, another high-end complex. [article]

What is going on in places like South First, South Congress, Barton Springs Rd., South Lamar (and so many more locations) is that they are putting in developments in places that people enjoy being because of the high level of creativity that has been shown in the character of the people, dwellings and businesses, and in the process they are tearing down and driving out those very people and places that make the areas appealing (either by changing the character and flavor or raising costs out the roof). You can't cut out your heart and use it for a facelift. I can't help but think of this episode of The Twilight Zone about the future society where they convert everybody into a perfect ideal form, something selected off a finite list of choices. It's called "Number 12 Looks Just Like You":

Parts 2 and 3 of this T-Zone.

Part 3 - Artsy Smartsy
On Sunday, we went on the Cool House tour, which is another event we've been doing every year. The "cool" part of it actually means "green" as the house featured have acquired very high ratings for energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. It is our ultimate lookie-loo experience of the year, as these houses are more or less all dream homes that we could not afford - not even the small ones. All of us can change little things in our homes to make them better for the environment (not to mention lowering the bills) but doing the big things is NOT cheap (like solar panels, new roofs, insulation, new walls...). A lot of these homes are very interesting on the inside (well... very affluent people live in them, so they tend to have cool stuff, but at least they are using their bucks to help out the planet a little). In some cases, we muttered amongst ourselves that... ahem... having a humongous TV in every room is not exactly "green", and neither is that waterhog in the yard known as a swimming pool. Meeeowrr. And in this one particular case, this stunning little house off South Congress...

...presented quite a contrast to the house right next door, which badly needed a roof, and lots of junk removed indoors and out (when boxes cover the windows, that means you've officially got too much stuff in there). But, I couldn't help but admire that they've made a statement with a yard sculpture from concrete blocks and milk crates (and some found objects). This place is really more in tune with that neighborhood, which is a neighborhood that can no longer afford the cost of living there.


Utah Savage said...

This is an interesting post and i will come back to it, but...

Completely off topic, did I ask you if you wanted to write a short storY? A specific kind of story? let me know if you're intrigued.

Ingrid said...

We never seem to have time to do any of these cool houses tour or green home tour (or garden tour)..
we've only been here since 2003 but we too hate the demise of South Austin. It annoys the hell out of me when people use 'the market' as an excuse to build and jack up prizes there. The 'thing' that makes South Austin a neat place to live is the very thing that gets pushed out of existence with all the yuppies with money (ok we're not too shabbily off but that's after a long time from coming from 'nothing') coming in and basically changing the vibe of the whole place.
It's a pet peeve of ours as well. We love First Thursdays and the South Austin things to do (alamo drafthouse free kids movie for one)..
anyway.. I better get my kids showered (just came back from the pool) and then, pizza and movie..

Blueberry said...

utah: I'm not sure if I can write a story or not. I would probably stress out, especially if it's fiction. :-O, but thanks for thinking of me.

ingrid: when we moved here in 2000, we felt like we belonged down there around S. First, but it was already too pricey for us - so we live in Oak Hill. We have managed to weird up our house and yard -- thankfully there's no homeowner's association where we live!!

konagod said...

I was mindlessly scanning blogs this morning (the coffee hasn't kicked in yet) and I saw that "evict yuppies" pic and I thought, "that could be Austin."

Oh wait. It is.