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Dawson Neighborhood


Major Development In Dawson’s SOCO

Yellow: 116 Dunlap. Red: 3842 Congress. Blue: 3822 Congress. Green: 3820 Congress & 103 Krebs. Light Blue: 3801 Wadford. Click the image for larger size:

A local businessman has informed us that billionaire Rick DuPont recently purchased the NAPA Parts property at 3820 South Congress Avenue, as well as the Renaissance Recordings studio behind it at 103 Krebs Lane. The same source tells us that talks are going very well to acquire Murphy’s Garage, 3801 Wadford and that Jeep Masters, 3822 South Congress Avenue are all-but certain to sell too. They’ve been actively looking for a new location.

A bid was also made for 3842 South Congress Avenue, previously a used car lot across from El Borego De Oro, but the owners declined. However, local residents at 116 Dunlap, behind this property, say they received notice to vacate in mid-January. The tenants offered an unconfirmed rumor that the property owners, William and Yen Ng, plan to demolish and rebuild there; possibly for a restaurant or coffee venue. The Ngs also own 3842 Congress and three other properties on the same block. They once personally ran the El Borrego De Oro site as an Asian restaurant, and lived at 117 Dunlap. It is also possible they have reconsidered selling to DuPont, and are evicting in preparation of that.

Considering the stately SOCO Lofts just across the street, the assumption is that a similar condominium building will be erected. This will be welcome to some, and really top off the SW tip of Dawson neighborhood with easily-accessible homes, restaurants and entertainment all within steps of each other. We’re also proud to have a P. Terry’s Hamburger Stand just around the corner.


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Krug Development Files Appeal For Hotel

Guesthouse Hotel Austin (draft)

KRUG Development has filed an appeal with the Travis County Board of Development to request reversal of the staff’s determination that a religious assembly exists at 2530 South Congress Avenue. KRUG is the firm representing The Guesthouse Hotel Austin, LLC. This boutique hotel has been proposed for 2510 South Congress Avenue, in place of the former Taste of China Express. Existence of a church next door has triggered zoning obstacles which limit the design and placement of the Hotel’s driveway, swimming pool and pub.

Neighbors on streets surrounding the two properties may already have received a letter from the City regarding this appeal. Qualifying neighbors may mail in their recommendation to be considered at the hearing. The hearing will be held at City Hall, 1st floor, 301 West 2nd Street at 5:30 PM on March 13, 2017.

Street view, the church in Austin.

Like myself, you may have driven or walked past “the church in Austin” (their spelling) many times without realizing it was owned by a religious movement. The unassuming beige walls at 2530 South Congress Avenue are said to hold a quiet sanctuary and housing for the church’s missionaries and their families. There are no religious symbols to be seen from the street. The only signs are plastic “No Trespassing” sheets, which appeared in the summer of 2016. The chapel building is hardly changed from it’s original construction as a small office. The facility is, ironically, a former motel. An examination of the church’s website shows weekly meetings at 2530 South Congress and other locations, but I was unable to determine the identity of their clergy. However, in some religions, the Members are also the Ministers.

Tim Seay, the church in Austin.

Tim Seay (pronounced “see”) sits on the church’s governing board. Seay made the following statements to the Zoning Commission in July of 2016: “The issue here is protection of residential property rights and church property rights, That’s what we are deciding. We’re a very active church — pretty atypically. We’re there most of the day, every day, and into the evenings”.

Read: KRUG Development speaks in favor of the waivers. The church in Austin speaks against the waivers.

Our understanding of the situation is that the church board fears a loss of quality in their environment. They are opposed to potential sources of noise and traffic, despite their location in a rapidly developing strip of South Congress Avenue. Property along that street, probably closer to downtown, were determined in 2015 to be the most expensive in Texas! In pursuit of their peace, the church board have rejected KRUG Development’s requests for zoning code waivers. This negatively impacts the freedom of design for the Hotel, but does not eliminate it entirely. On June 12, 2016 attending members of the Dawson Neighborhood Ass’n voted to recommend all three setback waivers requested by the Guesthouse. On June 28th, the Austin Planning Commission approved 2 of the waivers, KRUG having dropped the request to feature alcohol within 300′ of a religious assembly.

It seems to me that had the church board allowed KRUG to build the Hotel wall right along the property line, it could work out well for both of them. This would allow the the driveway, pool and pub to be built on the other side. This would also have blocked out noise the church no doubt suffers from HEB Grocery’s loading dock and other businesses in that direction. Without the waivers, KRUG must build the driveway facing the church, and the Hotel’s traffic and pool noise may project onto the church property.

Another part of the picture may be this: the development of the Hotel property will reduce the amount of open green space the church enjoys, though they do not own all of it. Interestingly, a look at the two properties on Google Maps shows that the back end of the proposed Hotel property experiences an extraordinary amount of traffic – coming from the church property! It looks like it has been used by the church for strolling and parking. There are clear tire tracks and foot paths crossing the property line. We are aware of homeless camping in the area, though. The construction of the hotel may affect local property values. While the church is likely free of property taxes, it may still affect maintenance costs in many ways. We don’t know exactly what it could mean if the property serves as an investment holding for the board.

We hope the church and KRUG Development are able to work out their differences. It may be that the church benefits in this by the elimination of homeless trespassers, and furthermore they may even choose to sell the property and build something better elsewhere! Either way, they are our neighbors, and they contribute to the wonderful and diverse nature of Dawson Neighborhood.

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SRCC Opposes St. Ed’s Operations Building

Letter to St. Ed’s University by David Swann of Travis Heights:

Dear Mr. Burnotes: (pdf)

I received a mailed copy of your August 9 letter yesterday. The message is disturbing, and I wish to respond. In general, I believe the administration has lost its focus as an educational institution.  …

Editoral by Tina Buck, SRCC Communications:

We are asking for St. Edward’s to consider the long term effects on the tax supported infrastructure they depend on in our neighborhood. We oppose commercializing Sherwood Oaks by building a shipping and receiving dock fronting our street. This might be good for St. Edward’s business but it is not good for our neighborhood or our city.

In Austin (zip 78704), the median household income is $50,248. In Sherwood Oaks, the average property tax bill is $9000. Average rent in South Congress/Sherwood Oaks is $2000 a month. This is because property tax has shot up tremendously and that is passed on to renter. Sherwood Oaks neighbors pay a large part of their income in taxes in support of streets, water and drainage infrastructure that are being “repurposed” to support the profits of St. Edward’s, tax exempt business.St. Edward’s made a 26,000,000 profit last year but is tax exempt.

You can find pictures and links to news reports about the St. Ed’s construction project and our protest at this public facebook page: NO 2 St. Ed’s

Below is a summary of our interaction with St. Ed’s up until our meeting August 5th, at which time they merely reiterated their claim that this building will not create undue stress and traffic in the neighborhood. This is by Gretchen Otto, SRCC president: (more…)

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Buzz Mill Pulls Out of Pickle Road

Despite construction being practically complete, Buzz Mill will not be opening it’s second 24-hour coffee and dining spot at 111 Pickle Road. This 15,000 square-foot space overlooks Dawson Neighborhood’s Alpine Pond, just West of South Congress Avenue. It would have joined Infinite Monkey Theorem urban winery and Crux Climbing Center on the same 2-acre lot.

Owner Jason Sabala told Culturemap news site that an unsatisfactory relationship with the landlord resulted in further obstacles with the City in getting the cafe opened.

Buzz Mill continues to operate it’s original location, and is bringing a coffee shop to San Marcos, and another in Louisiana. Their management are behind the conversion of Midway Field House into popular music venue, Grizzly Hall.

Jason Sabala and associates continue to search for a new South Austin location to open Austin Buzz Mill #2.

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South Congress Hotel Waivers Trump Some Neighbors’ Worries

We’re reproducing the whole article here for our neighbors who may not be able to read the whole article online (pay site). See our earlier articles with document links and video from the Planning Commission Meeting, and the neighborhood’s Plan Team vote in favor of waivers.

Austin Monitor – Monday, July 11, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

After a successful night at the Planning Commission, a new South Congress hotel will have both a pool and a driveway — despite concerns about their placement from neighbors and the church next door.

While the zoning at 2510 South Congress Ave. does allow for a hotel, Krug Development was seeking compatibility waivers from the city that will allow for a driveway and swimming pool to be placed closer to residential property than allowed under code. The driveway will be 5 feet from the neighboring property, instead of the required 15, and the pool will be 28 feet away, not the required 50.


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Austin Planning Comm Approves Variances for Guesthouse Hotel

Image: APC Votes for Variances

The Austin Planning Commission debated SP-2015-0300, the compatibility setback waivers requested by KRUG/Guesthouse Hotel. They reached this item at 11:30 PM, and finished at 1:00 AM. Guesthouse Hotel had dropped the request to feature alcohol within 300′ of the Church in Austin, so at stake was the driveway and the pool positions.

Planning Commission Staff had recommended approval of the waivers. Click here for their review sheet, site plan diagrams and attached documents from Interested Parties in the neighborhood.

Many representatives from Church in Austin spoke against the waivers on the grounds of noise, safety and defending the heritage trees on both properties. They do not want the hotel driveway adjacent to their property line, nor the pool, due to noise concerns. Their primary fear is that the hotel will be incompatible with the church’s quiet atmosphere by being a disruptive party destination. They framed the issue as being about their property rights.

The Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team representative was a no-show tonight, leaving Church in Austin itself awkwardly disclosing their lack of neighborhood support. On Monday, June 13, the DNPCT membership voted in favor of all three waivers.

The Planning Commission was ultimately sold on the waivers due to the reality that South Congress Avenue is already an entertainment district, and KRUG/Guesthouse Hotel presented reasonable solutions to each point of objection. They voted on the two waivers separately:

  • Driveway passed: 9 to 2
  • Pool passed 8 to 3 7 to 4 per Austin Monitor

Stay tuned, the Church in Austin may appeal, and The Guesthouse Hotel may ask for a waiver for alcohol sales in the future. Also note that the hotel design may change, as the land use design used tonight was not a final draft.

Please enjoy the 1:28 video here:

This article has been revised for clarity.

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Toss Pizzeria & Pub Opens on S.1st

Soft Opening Tonight! 5:00 PM – Midnight

June 28, 2016

The old Deutchman Plumming Supply building, just across the street corner from Torchy’s Tacos, is open again as a new restaurant and office space!

Toss Pizza & Pub, 2901 South 1st Street, is ready to serve you New York-style pizza, salads, soups and more!

General Manager Justin DeLaCruz and Chef John Pennington have opened up this new venue for eating and drinking along Dawson Neighborhood’s Western border.

We spoke to Justin, and he describes this as a live training for the employees, and apologizes in the event that service backs up or if not every menu item is available. Over 600 folks who signed up to their mailing list have not yet been notified yet, as Justin is concerned about providing everyone the best service and is concerned about being overwhelmed on opening day.

Celebrity mixologist Jason Kosmas has designed most of the cocktails Toss serves.

Bring your dog to play in Toss Yard and play washers or corn hole with your friends!

Read the article in Austin Eater here.

July 15: Jan Bucholz has given Toss a nice write-up. Read it and see the photo gallery here.

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Neighbors Vote in Favor of Variances for Guesthouse Hotel

On Monday, June 13, attending members of Dawson Neighborhood Plan Contact Team voted in favor of all 3 variances for the Guesthouse Hotel. It is to be built at 2510 S. Congress Ave by KRUG Development.

DNPCT will send a representative to the Austin Planning Commission to deliver their positive recommendation. This public meeting has been postponed to Tuesday, June 28, 6:00 PM (check back here to confirm) at 301 W 2nd St.

The City of Austin will televise this meeting live on the web here:

You can check back here to replay the meeting later:

Read the Editorial from KRUG here.

Read the Editorial from The Church in Austin here.

Read the documents filed with the City of Austin here.

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Editorial: 2510 S. Congress Variance Waivers

Image: Street Rendering

Greetings to the Dawson Neighborhood:

It has been a pleasure to meet and get to know the wonderful residents of the Dawson Neighborhood. We couldn’t be happier to call the Dawson Neighborhood home for The Guesthouse Hotel.

The Guesthouse Hotel’s mission is to provide a unique, individual, home-like experience for our Guests. We have designed a hotel that provides spacious, private accommodations with multiple bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, and bathrooms. We recognize that most lodging experiences have remained unchanged in the past half century. The average size hotel room in 1950 was 325 square feet and remains the same today. In contrast, the average size home has increased 144% from 983 square feet in 1950 to over 2400 square feet today. Americans live much differently today than they did 50 years ago and they shouldn’t have to turn back the clock 50 years while on vacation.

Who We Are


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Heights On Congress Residents Face Relocation

Our neighbors at 2703-2733 S. Congress Ave. (Oltorf Neighborhood) will be losing their apartment homes to new development by property owner Doug Gurkin. They’re worried about running into problems similar to other low-income community relocations on Austin’s South and East sides in recent years. Article in Austin Chronicle.

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