Editor's note: In reflecting on our top stories of the year, one trend emerges: Austin is changing. I know, I know, your eyes are rolling in the back of your head, but hear me out. Huge, billion-dollar companies like Apple are moving to town thanks, of course, to Texas' corporate tax structure, but also to Austin's culture. The art we make, the food we eat, the green spaces we protect are bringing more and more folks inside the Austin city limits, and bemoaning this change isn't going to help (plus, it's become a boring cliche).
Instead, we must continue to shine a spotlight on our culture. We must tell our stories, support our neighbors, patronize our restaurants, buy friends' art, listen to local music, and continue to hold our elected leaders accountable. As we head into 2019, CultureMap will continue to uncover these stories, tell them with integrity (and sometimes a little sass), and help our readers stay informed about all things Austin culture.
1. Austin named headquarters of new billion-dollar tech company as city awaits Amazon HQ2. The frenzy that was all things Amazon HQ2 consumed much of 2018, but as the year comes to an end, we know it was not meant to be. Jeff Bezos may have dissed Austin in favor of New York City and the D.C. 'burbs, but one billion-dollar company did choose the Capital City as its home.
2. See Austin's whimsical new public art installation before it all falls down. Yes, Austin is growing. Yes, Austin is changing. Yes, Austin traffic is rough. But does any of that really matter when you see how beautifully the city embraces public arts project like Pease Park's Stickwork? As Austin preps for its next incarnation, this story is a reminder that our love of the unusual, of art, and of outdoor spaces just may save us.
3. 500 tiny homes with big amenities coming to new Austin-area communities. Oh, how we love a good tiny home — and developers are starting to take notice. Two new developments, Constellation ATX and Stage Coach, brought hundreds of new tiny homes to Central Texas. Welcome to adorable, affordable living.
4. $78 million resort breaking ground in charming Texas Hill Country town. A sprawling destination resort is coming to Fredericksburg. The 22-acre project will feature a massive hotel, convention center, luxe rooftop bar, and more swank amenities. It's impossible to know if or how this will change the beloved Hill Country town, but no doubt we'll all be paying attention
5. Austin's first-ever CBD cannabis oil shop quietly rolls into town without buzz. Remember back in the day — you know, back in April — when CBD was still a relatively unknown thing? Back then, a shop called Rawsome quietly opened on Rosewood Avenue. Though Mineral, Joy Organics, and Restart, have since joined it, Rawsome is forever known as Austin's OG of CBD.
6. New Domain-style development on East Riverside could be Austin's next downtown. Is East Riverside destined to be a new downtown? The proximity to the city center and access to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport certainly make the area appealing — and one California-based developer wants to cash in.
7. 4 tiny home neighborhoods in Austin that unlock affordable living. Yup, tiny dwellings are a big trend. These four Austin neighborhoods (including the previously mentioned Constellation ATX) are offering the lil' dwellings inside a traditional neighborhood setup. As the city's housing affordability woes continue, this is a trend we should all embrace.
8. Vincent van Gogh's rare art comes to Texas in this blockbuster exhibition. Art doesn't even need to be in Austin to make a splash. News of Vincent Van Gogh's landmark exhibition in Houston was announced earlier this fall to fanfare across the state. The show will showcase 50 rarely seen paintings on loan from Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo.
9. Experts reveal top 6 affordable Austin neighborhoods for first-time buyers. All across the city, from food truck lines to church pews to concert pits, renters are constantly wondering, "Will I ever afford a home?" This story probably won't end the anguish, but it may help. We tapped local realtors to find out the six Austin neighborhoods for newbie buyers.