Controversy in East Austin
SXSW party slated for demolished piñata store site canceled after protests
On February 12, Jumpolin, a piñata and party goods store at 1401 E. Cesar Chavez St., was demolished. Though a common site on Cesar Chavez (the boulevard is a growing hot spot for cocktail bars and restaurants), the demolition of this particular space sparked outrage among Austinites.
As CultureMap previously reported, the piñata store owners, Sergio and Monica Lejarazu, contend they had no idea that the building was being torn down, while the property owners, Darius Fisher and Jordan French of F&F Real Estate Ventures, say that they gave Jumpolin ample notice.
Over the past two weeks, Jumpolin has become a symbol of an ever-gentrifying Austin, a city where rents are skyrocketing and our lack of diversity is making national headlines (French's quote to CultureMap comparing Jumpolin to a house "infested by roaches" certainly added fuel to the fire). In the wake of the piñata store's demolition, groups formed to protest both F&F Real Estate Ventures and whatever business they hope to put at 1401 E. Cesar Chavez.
On February 25, the protest groups scored their first big win when Splash, an event marketing brand based in New York City, announced it would not be hosting its SXSW party on the property. The decision came just days after Justice for Jumpolin Community Action started a Facebook campaign to pressure Splash to move the event.
In an statement to Justice for Jumpolin Community Action, Splash CEO Ben Hindman said, "Indeed, we had no idea that this was the plan and would certainly never have gotten involved in this venue at all if we had. This is a terrible situation for the Jumpolin family and my heart goes out to them. If there is any way we can help, please let me know."
It remains unclear if Splash will reschedule its SXSW event at another location. As of press time, an inquiry to Hindman has not be returned.