Gentrification of SoCo

RECEIVED Fri., Jan. 9, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Chronicle readers call Austin home, but chances are most of us have been born and raised in another part of the state, if not another part of the country. I left the land of glass and plastic, Dallas, eight years ago and swore that I would never move back to this cultural desert called Texas – unless, of course, happenstance brought me to its oasis.
   When I moved to Austin I wanted location over amenities – soul over stuff. Although you won't find me sporting a "78704" bumper sticker, I was thrilled to find a funky little apartment complex a few blocks away from South Congress Avenue. Screw the five-bedroom house on a one-acre lot, I wanted to live in a part of town where people tuned into their neighborhood rather than tuning out to their plasma-screen television.
   Unfortunately, a lot of people with a lot more cash have been thinking along the same lines as myself. The houses in my neighborhood, although built on foundations of tree stumps, are now going for 350k! The Motorola and Dell clans, realizing that a Capital Pacific Home = Death, have been looking for a little soul themselves. Land value rates are now so high I can barely sustain my rent, and the funky soul-filled neighborhood I moved into is now drastically changing.
   On Thursday the eighth, three stores that I try to frequent on South Congress announced that they no longer could afford to stay. They have been officially rubbed out by [new businesses] and property owners seeking higher rents. Although the usurpers remain independently owned, their merchandise is dependent culturally on MTV and Stuff magazine. "SoCo" is effectively pushing out South Congress, the pastiche is forcing the original to move, and chances are I'll follow.
Rad Tollett
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