Naked City

Naked City

Austin Stories

After what seems like decades of hype and buzz, this week the first tenants moved into the Nokonah lofts at North Lamar and West Ninth. Units in the Perry Lorenz-Robert Barnstone upscale condo tower cost about $300 a square foot; among the tenants is former Gov. Ann Richards. In a glowing July 5 business section article on the pricey Nokonah, Austin American-Statesman reporter Shonda Novak seemed just as enraptured by the granite countertops and oak floors as the lofts' developers. It's not just the buildout that's got them all in a tizzy, but also the "expansive views of Austin's hills, the Shoal Creek greenbelt, Duncan Park, and the downtown Austin skyline." No mention is made of the traffic burden imposed by the 11-story building on an already stressed corridor, or the correlation between sky-high swanky condo costs and rising rents in the area -- which push other, less affluent folks further and further from the urban core. The daily also neglected to mention another vista: Many of the Nokonah's east- and north-facing residents will have a stunning view of the inmate recreation yard atop the Travis County Criminal Justice Complex. Now all it needs is a Starbucks. -- Jordan Smith

On Monday, July 15, the city's Urban Transportation Commission will review a proposal to redesign 3.5 miles of Shoal Creek Boulevard between Foster Lane and 38th Street. Prepared for the city by transportation consultant Charles Gandy's firm Livable Communities Consulting, the proposal is based on "context sensitive design": an interdisciplinary approach meant to promote efficiency, reduce costs, and avoid antipathy between neighborhoods. Through analysis and input from residents of the Allandale and Rosedale neighborhoods, Gandy and Co. have developed a plan meant to reduce speeding, create some additional sidewalks and quality bike lanes, preserve parking, and aesthetically enhance the corridor. 6pm, One Texas Center, eighth floor. -- L.A.

On July 3, Austin Police detectives with the department's Organized Crime Division had 47 suspects in custody as a result of a three-month undercover drug operation, code named "Operation Spring Clean." The investigation, a joint operation involving the Texas Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the Travis County District Attorney, targeted street-level dealers. Law enforcement arrested 16 dealers during a July 3 roundup, and 33 other suspects were already in custody on unrelated charges. In all, a Travis County grand jury has returned 81 sealed indictments on 77 suspects. -- J.S.

A three-alarm fire early Saturday morning destroyed the Black Cat Lounge, a Sixth Street landmark and institution. The electrical fire reportedly began at around 4:30am and left the building at 309 E. Sixth gutted and partially collapsed, taking nearly 70 Austin firefighters to squelch the blaze. The fire also inflicted minor smoke and water damage upon the Cat's neighbors, including the 311 Club and Scruffy's Food Mart. For more, see "Dancing About Architecture," p.49. -- J.S.

Local Libertarians got their pride spot rubbed last week when Austin software executive Geoffrey Neale was elected national chair during the party's national convention in Indianapolis. Neale received almost 46% of the vote, beating two free-marketeers from Massachusetts by a healthy margin. A 20-year Lib, Neale has previously served as a member of the Libertarian National Committee and chair of the Texas party. This year's convention drew nearly 800 delegates from 48 states; among the attendees were Texas U.S. Rep. Ron "Dr. No" Paul, R-Surfside, and New Mexico's Republican Governor/No. 1 Drug War Opponent Gary Johnson. -- L.A.

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