It’s important to note, first off, that the North Loop neighborhood used to be under the flight path for city’s Mueller Airport (now redeveloped as a planned community). Incoming planes would fly terrifying low over the neighborhood and touch ground practically on I-35 just to its east, drowning out conversations and discombobulating some of the more delicate humans and other creatures in its wake. Needless to say, it was full of cheap rentals, occupied a mix of working-class families and students on the older side of twentysomething. Its main strips, North Loop Boulevard/53rd Street and 51st Street, catered to both lifestyles with a mix of vintage clothing and furnitures stores, guitar and shoe repair shops, a coffeehouse or two, an anarchist bookstore, a metalhead pizza parlor, and, for some reason, a Mediterranean restaurant that did healthy business (the neighborhood is also a few blocks from the original Tamale House). Times changed, of course, the airport moved, and North Loop slowly, then quickly, became a hot area in which to live, and buy, if possible. Rentals became rarer, and rents much higher. Redevelopment of the Airport Boulevard Corridor, its eastern border, and of nearby Highland Mall into a community college branch, as well as the construction of some multifamily housing within the neighborhood came about. A surprising number of those older, funky businesses remain, though; now they’re just joined by some craft beer and cocktail bars, higher-end foodie spots, and, occasionally, newer versions of themselves (Epoch Coffee) or favorites from other parts of town (Home Slice Pizza will be there any day now). And while the more modest single family homes are more expensive now, there are still a lot of them in the area. All in all, it’s a pretty good model of how to incorporate Old and New (Austins, that is). North Loop garnered more votes than Govalle in Round 1.
"Everybody in Austin knows something about downtown, whether it's Saturday nights on Sixth Street, a visit to the Capitol, or a jog around Butler Trail," reads on of the nominations we got for the neighborhood, "but downtown is so big and so dynamic that few people know the whole scene." It’s true: Downtown is booming on a bigger scale than most places in the central city. That means lots and lots of tall buildings, but they’re not just the office towers of yore: many, if not most, are residences and multiuse complexes, such as the redeveloped Seaholm Power Plant. Downtown development also includes the complete reinvention of Waller Creek and the revival of Shoal Creek, as well as rehabbing smaller green spaces such as Republic Square park and creating new ones, such as the pocket patios on Congress Avenue. It all adds up to a more walkable, vibrant, and accessible place for public life, as well as for its inhabitants. Downtown beat Bee Cave in round 1 of the Curbed Cup.