Iconic Pink Palace Co-op for Sale After 30 Years

Future is uncertain for Black and brown artists in residence

Yvonne Goodwyne, a DJ and musician who moved into the Pink Palace in 2020 (photos by John Anderson)

Update March 20: Residents of the Pink Palace will move out at the end of March.

After existing for nearly 30 years as a cooperative space worthy of a New York Times feature and Best of Austin award, the Central Austin home known as the Pink Palace is up for sale.

Owned by University of Texas architecture professor Simon Atkinson since 1985 and run as a co-op since 1994, the nearly 3,000-square-foot property houses young artists in six bedrooms. Its Zillow listing, posted in early October, asks for $1.5 million. (The owner did not respond to our requests for comment.)

In previous years, the Pink Palace represented the quirkiest parts of Austin's cooperative housing movement. Residents hosted lesbian vampire parties and painted their rooms to their likings. One infamous second-floor door opened to the ground below (and was later boarded up for safety reasons).

In 2020, however, in the wake of reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests, outgoing residents resolved to turn the Palace into a space specifically rented by people of color. Now, all seven residents are Black and brown creatives who stress that its accessible location (West 32nd) and low rent (rent for each housemate is under $500 a month) are anomalies.

The one and only Pink Palace Co-op

"As a musician in Austin, it's been a really important location to be close to Downtown," said Yvonne Goodwyne, who moved into the home in 2020. "[It offers] easy access to my gigs as well as facilitating spaces for people to jam, to record, to write music."

“Austin talks a big game about protecting [marginalized] people and having their backs in dire situations, especially when it becomes displacement, but at the end of the day, the machine still wins.”   – Robyn West, resident, creative, and advocate

There's still a chance the Pink Palacians, as they're called, could stay. Property management informed them Jan. 3 that the owner is considering taking the house off of the market and raising the rent roughly 50% to help pay for property tax increases. Most residents could swing that elevated rent, but if the house is sold, none of the Pink Palacians have a plan for where they'll go. "I technically don't qualify for housing anywhere because right now I'm unemployed, and I make money from gigs," Goodwyne said. "That doesn't bring in three times the rent anywhere, really. I'm trying to lay out my options, potentially couch surf. Or maybe, hopefully, stay with someone until I can find a place, a stable job."

Despite past lore, the current Pink Palace acts more as a comfortable home than a party house. Black Trans Leadership of Austin funded a since-cleared community garden in the backyard, while Keith Galloway, a jazz artist who moved into the Palace last January, fondly remembers impromptu jam sessions in common spaces. Most importantly, the housemates felt safe in each other's company.

"[The house is] very incubated, very warm, very safe," said Robyn West, a creative consultant who specializes in organizing efforts for Black trans women. "Just waking up hearing music or hearing somebody singing, hitting a random run going downstairs. You just wake up to that warmth and know that you're in a space that accepts you and wants you to thrive."

The housemates have launched a GoFundMe to aid in their relocation efforts. When asked what Austin would lose with the sale of the Pink Palace, West turns the conversation back to the residents.

"I don't think Austin is losing anything. I think our situation is exactly what Austin represents," she says. "Austin talks a big game about protecting [marginalized] people and having their backs in dire situations, especially when it becomes displacement, but at the end of the day, the machine still wins."

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