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Photo courtesy of Northshore

Austin has a nearly limitless list of ways to go out on the town, every day and night of the week. But the Live Music Capital of the World also has an impressive luxury living scene that makes it just as alluring to stay in.

For next-level living right downtown, all signs point to Northshore, a luxe high-rise apartment complex with a sleek, modern mood. Here are 10 reasons why you'll want to call it home.

Luxe is standard in every apartment home
The one-, two-, and three-bedroom floorplans all boast spa-inspired bathrooms, large walk-in closets, Nest thermostats, open-concept kitchens with granite or quartz countertops, engineered hardwood flooring, and floor-to-ceiling windows that capitalize on panoramic lake, Hill Country, and skyline views.

The pool has vacation vibes
Surrounded by cabanas and sunbeds, the infinity-edge pool and deck are a dream — and your ticket to a day-cay anytime. Located on the eighth floor and overlooking Lady Bird Lake, this resort-style zone also boasts an outdoor fire pit and fireplace complete with gorgeous sunset (or anytime) views.

You can work out with a view
In addition to the poolscape, you can break a sweat while overlooking the lake at the 24-hour Technogym fitness club.

You can also easily WFH
Working from home is easy with three conference rooms, an iMac business center, and two private lounges for any biz meetings — or when you just need a change of scenery from that remote workstation in your apartment.

2nd Street is your next-door neighbor
Only a block away is the 2nd Street District, one of Austin’s top destinations for authentic community spirit in the form of live music, award-winning local fare, and indie boutiques.

One of Time’s Greatest Places is also next door
The 500,000 books are just the beginning at the six-story, LEED-certified Austin Public Library. There’s also an art gallery, an event space, a rooftop butterfly garden, a series of group-study rooms, the Cookbook Cafe, and more. And, yes, the library made Time’s esteemed list of World’s Greatest Places in 2018.

Mother Nature is never far
Northshore is near the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail as well as Lady Bird Lake and Zilker Park, so you’re never far from finding some green space and channeling Mother Nature — even in the heart of the city.

Dinner is served, right downstairs
You don’t even have to leave home base to pick up dinner. Northshore’s ground level boasts ATX Cocina’s modern Mexican cuisine along with beloved taco joint Torchy’s, with even more eateries and retailers on the way.

You can have a Moody moment
The state-of-the-art Austin City Limits at The Moody Theater is within walking distance, which means easy access to its 100-plus concerts and live events every year, with no parking required.

The community amenities are endless
In addition to all the above, Northshore has 24-hour concierge services, pet-friendly facilities with a pet spa, valet dry cleaning, a private screening room, options for reserved and private garages, multiple grilling stations, and more.

Explore Northshore via virtual tour here, and schedule an in-person tour at northshoreaustin.com.

Cool off in the infinity-edge pool on the eighth floor.

Photo courtesy of Northshore
Cool off in the infinity-edge pool on the eighth floor.
Courtesy of Wan Bridge

New build-to-rent development opens doors in booming Austin suburb

No for-sale signs

A Houston real estate developer that specializes in build-to-rent homes has entered the Austin market with a 48-duplex community in Georgetown.

The developer, Wan Bridge Group, says the three- to four-bedroom, two-story duplexes are going up at Georgetown Heights, which is sandwiched between I-35 to the southeast and Lakeway Drive to the northwest. The rental duplexes, along Northwood Drive, range from 1,496 to 2,580 square feet.

Monthly rents start at $2,375. Some residents already have moved into Georgetown Heights. A ribbon-cutting ceremony recently was held at Georgetown Heights, where construction kicked off last September.

“Residents can expect all the Wan Bridge trademark qualities like modern, thoughtful designs, high-quality finishes, excellent service from our property management service, and 24/7 maintenance,” Ting Qiao, CEO of Wan Bridge, says in a news release.

Qiao tells CultureMap that seven more Wan Bridge build-to-rent communities are in the pipeline for the Austin area.

Each home at Georgetown Heights features energy-efficient appliances, a two-car garage, a private yard, a “smart home” package, and an open floor plan. Property maintenance includes lawn care and pest control services, replacement of filters and lightbulbs.

Georgetown Heights helps meet the demand for housing in fast-growing Georgetown.

From 2010 to 2020, the population of the Williamson County suburb soared by nearly 42 percent. With a growth rate of 10.5 percent from July 2021 to July 2022, Georgetown ranked as the country’s fastest-growing city with at least 50,000 residents.

Founded in 2016, Wan Bridge already operates two rental communities in Dallas-Fort Worth and 11 rental communities in the Houston metro area (including one community that’s under construction).

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Austin named one of the least affordable cities in U.S. for minimum-wage renters

Priced out

If you’re a minimum-wage worker who’s hunting for an apartment in Austin, you might be out of luck in terms of affordable options.

The Capital City recently made a new GOBankingRates list of the 15 least affordable U.S. cities for minimum-wage renters.

The U.S. and Texas minimum wages are $7.25 an hour. In Austin, someone earning minimum wage would need to work at least 198.68 hours to pay the monthly rent for the typical one-bedroom apartment, according to GOBankingRates.

Four other Texas cities made the list of the least affordable places for minimum-wage renters, all in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area: Plano ranked third for the number of work hours needed to afford a one-bedroom rent, while Irving came in at at No. 9, Dallas at No. 11, and Fort Worth at No. 15.

While those four DFW cities didn’t fare well, the numbers for Austin are even worse. Based on an average 2022 one-bedroom apartment rent of $1,440.00 and an hourly rate of $27.70 needed to get that apartment, Austin ranked second for the number of work hours needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment.

“A bustling cultural hub, the capital city of Texas has become another city where the cost of living has far outpaced the wages — thanks in part to the $7.25 minimum wage,” GOBankingRates notes.

Ahead of Austin on the list of least affordable places for minimum-wage-earning renters was Atlanta, where 213.16 work hours are needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment, according to GOBankingRates.

Courtesy of OHT Partners

750 new luxury apartments coming to booming South Austin area

South Austin style

A project featuring 750 luxury apartments is underway in South Austin.

OHT Partners recently broke ground on the first phase of a 750-unit luxury apartment complex on a 37-acre site along South First Street near FM 1626. The first community, named Lenox Woods, will comprise 402 units; it’s scheduled to open in late 2023.

The Austin-based multifamily builder and investor plans to start construction in 2024 on a second, yet-to-be-named community that will offer 348 apartments.

“South Austin has experienced a tremendous amount of multifamily development in the last decade because it’s one of the most affordable parts of the city and only 15 minutes from downtown,” says Ben Browder, vice president of development at OHT Partners. “All of the residential growth has attracted a lot more restaurants, retailers, and entertainment venues to this area in recent years, and these nearby amenities have made South Austin an even more desirable place to live.”

Located at 10801 Wayne Riddell Loop, the apartment site is near the South Park Meadows retail center, as well as The Yard and St. Elmo Public Market mixed-use developments.

Lenox Woods will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments. Community amenities will include two resort-style pools, pickleball courts, a shared work studio with business-grade Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness center, electric vehicle charging stations, and a dog park.

Previously known as Oden Hughes, the company rebranded as OHT Partners in 2021 to incorporate the names of all three longtime principals: Steve Oden, Craig Hughes, and Eric Taylor.

ejs9/Getty Images

Pricey Austin named among most expensive U.S. cities to rent a home

Paying up

As the Austin metro area has grown, so has the amount that local residents pay for rent. A new study clearly underscores that reality.

The study, published by the 24/7 Wall St. website, puts the median monthly rent in the Austin are at $1,326. Austin ranks 31st among all U.S. metros for the highest median rent. The only other Texas metro in the top 50 is Midland, where the median rent stands at $1,239. That puts Midland at No. 44 nationally.

According to Apartment List, rents in the Austin area rose 19.2 percent from May 2021 to this May. “This is the fifth straight month that the city has seen rent increases after a decline in December of last year,” Apartment List says.

Austin’s year-over-year rent growth exceeds the state average (14.8 percent) and national average (15.3 percent), according to Apartment List.

To determine the metros with the highest rent, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of median gross rent from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. The median gross rent across the U.S. is $1,096, the data analysis shows, while it ranges from $1,203 to $2,365 in the 50 biggest metros.

Not surprisingly, the San Jose metro area in Northern California tops 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the places with the highest median rent ($2,365). It’s followed by the San Francisco metro area ($2,021). They’re the only metros in the country where median rent exceeds $2,000 a month.

“Generally, the metropolitan areas with the highest rents tend to have higher household incomes. However, even after accounting for those higher incomes, rent in these places is less affordable than is typical across the country,” 24/7 Wall St. notes.

Photo courtesy of City of Round Rock

Austin suburb rocks it as No. 1 city for renters in the U.S.

Top of the heap

The Austin suburb of Round Rock rocks the country when it comes to the best cities for renters.

The RentCafe website places Round Rock at No. 1 in its new ranking of the top U.S. cities for renters in 2022. Elsewhere in the region, Austin appears at No. 10 and San Marcos at No. 41.

To come up with the ranking, RentCafe analyzed 17 factors, including measurements related to cost of living, quality of rental housing, economic strength, and quality of life. The rental platform reviewed data for hundreds of cities before arriving at 115 contenders.

Round Rock comes in at No. 10 for economic strength, No. 12 for quality of life, and No. 13 for cost of living.

RentCafe notes that Round Rock, the biggest city in Williamson County, “benefits from great year-round weather and a suburban feel — much sought-after in recent years — as well as many parks and great outdoor areas.”

In addition, Round Rock checks in with a high share of high-end apartments, according to RentCafe.

A dozen of the cities in the study’s top 50 are in Texas:

  • Round Rock, No. 1
  • Conroe, No. 3
  • Austin, No. 10
  • Plano, No. 13
  • San Antonio, No. 18
  • Houston, No. 19
  • Fort Worth, No. 20
  • Lubbock, No. 21
  • Amarillo, No. 23
  • Odessa, No. 39
  • San Marcos, No. 41
  • Dallas, No. 49

“Small cities tend to offer the best life for renters, representing half of our top 50 — despite the fact that some people might expect larger cities to suit renters’ needs the best. In fact, many of these smaller cities are suburbs of large metros and are often clustered in the Southern and Southeastern United States,” RentCafe explains. “What they all have in common is a healthy pace of new apartment construction and a great selection of amenity-rich properties.”

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.