The People's Guide is Curbed Austin's tour of neighborhoods, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone.
This time around, we welcome longtime resident Jen Weaver, principal and owner of design-build firm Weaver Buildings, to tell us everything she knows about East César Chavez, winner of the Curbed Cup 2016.
What are some local customs of note?
The daily ritual of morning coffee and evening beer on the front porch gives everyone the opportunity to wave at neighbors. Most lots are a narrow 40 to 50 feet wide, and the flat topography of the connected front yards creates a united court.
I always have felt very safe, even living alone in my house, because I know my neighbors would be aware of any dastardly happenings. Truly some of my favorite memories are sitting on the front porch with a coffee and a friend, working on my garden and seeing venue visitors headed to Fiesta Gardens for happenings like the annual bagpipe festival, Pride parties, and various concerts.
Do you have a beloved neighborhood joint?
I love [Taqueria] Chapala! Working on my old bungalow, we would grab a bag of bean and cheese tacos to fuel us during long and sweat-filled days. The aguas frescas at Mr. Natural are the biggest, most healthy, and most hydrating drinks you can find on a hot day! I like the spinach pineapple.
Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood?
Inflate! This neighborhood is magical. Every day feels like a vacation. Thanks to the dense amount of trees in the neighborhood and lining the lake, birds singing act as the morning alarm. Close proximity to Lady Bird Lake provides peaceful walks or exercise at one of our city’s greatest amenities. There is no shortage of cafes or restaurants to meet friends at, and an easy meander home with locusts singing and crickets chirping are everything you need to remember you live in the best neighborhood in Austin.
What's the neighborhood housing stock like?
Old bungalow tear downs or builder-grade new constructions. It’s rare to find a properly restored original construction, but one might hit the market once a year.
Better for buyers or renters?
Prices are now inflated at both ends of the spectrum. Given the opportunity to choose, I would say buy and develop. With a corner lot, an Accessory Dwelling Unit on the back half of the lot gives the opportunity to have two urban-scaled homes with yards. If managed well, selling one could pay for the development costs of the other.
Free films at the French Legation are a great picnic-blanket friend hang. Also, moving into this neighborhood gives you the opportunity to turn your house into a gallery for the annual East Austin Studio Tour. You and your friends can work toward a gallery exhibition together in your own home.
The final word on East César Chavez:
I truly love this neighborhood and all of the history it holds. Close bike rides to downtown and nature trails are available; slower traffic provides a relatively safe ride. Some folks are upset with the new density and how it is affecting this neighborhood, but the increasing density is affecting all of Austin. Smart development and involved neighbors will be key moving forward, but I cannot think of a better place to spend money or time in the ATX.