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Curbed Cup Final Four: (8) North Austin vs. (7) MLK-183

Which neighborhood should advance? Cast your vote now!

Short concrete bridge with mural of flowers
Bridge over Little Walnut Creek in the North Austin Civic Association
Bridge over Little Walnut Creek
 NACA/Facebook

The Curbed Cup, our annual award for the neighborhood of the year, kicked off last week with 8 neighborhoods vying for the prestigious (fake) trophy. After a last week’s heated competition and a couple of upsets, four neighborhoods emerged the first round victorious. This week the Final Four will battle it out; polls for each will be open for 48 hours for this round so you can cast your vote as to which ones should advance. Let the games carry on!

North Austin (NACA)

Most Austin residents think of North Austin as general area encompassing many neighborhoods, and they’re not wrong. For the purposes of this poll, however, we’re focusing on the area covered by what is technically called the North Austin Civic Association. Located just west of Lamar and adjacent to the North Burnet neighborhood (which we didn’t pick because it has more businesses than residences), it’s proximate to the Domain, Top Golf, an Austin Community College Branch, the Gateway shopping/cinema complex, and the Chinatown Center, and is the locus of many major employers. Home prices—for mostly, but not all, 1960s and ‘70s tract homes—have remained affordable in the increasingly convenient area. The past couple of years have seen big strides in revitalizing the area, working with the city and grants to make it safer and more attractive. Add to that the many parks and trails nearby, and you have the makings of a pretty sweet neighborhood.

Boundaries are Hwy. 183/Research Boulevard to the south, Kramer Lane to the north,, North Lamar Boulevard to the east, and Metric Boulevard to the west.

two volunteers pulling weeds at a city park
Volunteers in Springdale Park in East MLK-183
Friends of Springdale Park/Facebook

MLK-183

More Austinites probably know the MLK-183 neighborhood than know its official name. Running along the east side Springdale Road from Airport to East MLK boulevards (with a jog up Hwy. 183 to Loyola Lane north of that), it’s a well-established, quiet neighborhood that been home to Austin families for decades and continues to be the location of some of the most affordable homes we’ve seen in the central city. Lately, those homes have been hitting the market more often, likely the result of the ever-eastward migration of Austinites seeking mortgage and rental relief (see also: North Austin) in a neighborhood that still has character and some neighborly ways. Big employers, such as Fed-Ex and Freescale Semiconductors, have also had a longtime presence in the area, as have some volunteer-based enterprises that need space, such as the Yellow Bike Project. The area’s natural greenery, as well as Springdale Park, make it welcoming. While it’s convenient to bus lines, it could use a few more businesses within walking distance, but that seems to be coming about, with art-oriented complexes such as Springdale General and theater company Underbelly joining such stalwart local gems as Sahara Lounge (formerly TJ’s) and Mr. Catfish.