Northwest Austin Edition | December 2020

NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION

VOLUME 14, ISSUE 11  DEC. 24, 2020JAN. 27, 2021

ONLINE AT

Find deals in a snap: Point your camera to the QR code or visit communityimpact.com/deals .

IMPACTS

4 TRANSPORTATION

11 BUSINESS FEATURE

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Concordiaevolves to keep campus open Northwest Austin college adds new tech for hybrid learning Even after months of planning, Jerey Utzinger, dean of teaching and learning at Con- cordia University Texas, said he woke up on the morning of the rst day of the fall 2020 semes- ter dreading what could go wrong over the next several months under the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic. By the late afternoon, however, Utzinger said his brief panic had subsided. BY IAIN OLDMAN CONTINUED ON 18

BULLICK HOLLOW RD.

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A student strolls across a nature walkway on the Concordia University Texas campus. School ocials say on-campus foot trac among its 2,500 students was down approximately 75% in the fall semester. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

ROADMAP FOR THE FUTURE

Historic public transit expansion coming after city voters give stamp of approval Light rail, tunnel construction could start in 2024

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Austin voters approved a $7.1 billion public transit expansion Nov. 3 that will add rail and more bus routes in Austin. BLUE LINE ORANGE LINE ENHANCED FREQUENCY METRORAPID

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BY JACK FLAGLER

Voters responded by approving the $7.1 billion transit plan and a permanent tax increase. Out of more than 418,000 votes cast throughout the city, 57.9% approved. CONTINUED ON 20

MOPAC

Capital said they knew they asked a lot of the community going into a Nov. 3 vote to fund a revamp of the region’s public transportation network. Metro leaders

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The Orange Line extension from the North Lamar Transit Center to the Tech Ridge Transit Center will require another round of funding.

TO AUSTINBERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

MAP NOT TO SCALE N

SOURCE: CAPITAL METROCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMCIPATRON . Complete 2020 by joining your neighbors with a contribution of any amount to CI Patron. Funds support Community Impact Newspaper ’s hyperlocal, unbiased journalism and help build informed communities. Choose IMPACT . Make a CONTRIBUTION . Strengthen JOURNALISMFORALL . Contribute today! Snap or visit

Dell Children’s is here for your child, don’t fight cancer alone We’re the only comprehensive children’s cancer center in Central Texas Raising a child can come with coughs and colds, but Alex Torres never expected to hear that her son, Max, was diagnosed with cancer. Alex was scared, with no idea what to do, when she found out her son, Max, had cancer. But as soon as her family walked through the doors of Dell Children’s Medical Center, they were greeted with smiles and a sense of reassurance. The Dell Children’s team explained every test and procedure that was going to be performed. Now, the Torres family is no longer afraid of Max’s diagnosis, knowing that they are not alone. If your child or a family you know has been affected by cancer, Dell Children’s is here for you and your child.

“We have a team behind

us that’s going to take care of Max. If anyone is going through this process, Dell Children’s is the place to be.”

— Alex Torres

Let us give your child the care they need: ascension.org/dellchildrenscancer

© Ascension 2020. All rights reserved.

Connect’s Orange and Blue Lines.

It’s Go Time, Austin! It’s Go Time, Austin!

Take part in our live or self-guided virtual public scoping meetings, beginning in late January 2021. Visit ProjectConnect.com to learn more about the Orange and Blue Line projects and see meeting details. Live Zoom Meetings: January 25 – 29 Self-Guided Virtual Open House: January 25 – March 5 (extended) Meeting materials will be available in English and Spanish. Información de la reunión se disponible en inglés y español.

Join us to learn more about Project Connect’s Orange and Blue Lines. Take part in our live or self-guided virtual public scoping meetings, beginning in late January 2021. Visit ProjectConnect.com to learn more about the Orange and Blue Line projects and see meeting details. Live Zoom Meetings: January 25 – 29 Self-Guided Virtual Open House: January 25 – March 5 (extended) Take part in our live or self-guided virtual public scoping meetings, beginning in late January 2021. Visit ProjectConnect.com to learn more about the Orange and Blue Line projects and see meeting details. Live Zoom Meetings: January 25 – 29 Self-Guided Virtual Open House: January 25 – March 5 (extended) Meeting materials will be available in English and Spanish. Información de la reunión se disponible en inglés y español. Meeting materials will be available in English and Spanish. Información de la reunión se disponible en inglés y español. Join us to learn more about Project Connect’s Orange and Blue Lines.

2

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMPHYLLIS: I think we’re all looking forward to some holiday joy this season, and although holiday-themed events are hard to come by these days, there is one thing we can still do: shop! Shop for gifts, food, decorations and furniture. You can find everything you need right in your own backyard with our local retailers. Curbside or delivery counts! I can’t say enough about how important our small businesses, restaurants and retailers are to the economic health of our communities, and we, as residents, need to support these local owners and their families. Just a friendly reminder, and have a wonderful holiday! Phyllis Campos, GENERALMANAGER

MARKET TEAM GENERAL MANAGER Phyllis Campos, pcampos@communityimpact.com EDITOR Greg Perliski, gperliski@communityimpact.com SENIOR REPORTER Iain Oldman GRAPHIC DESIGNER Mel Stefka ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Taylor Caranfa METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Travis Baker MANAGING EDITOR Amy Denney ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Haley Grace CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pflugerville, Texas. The company’s mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today, we operate across five metropolitan areas, providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full- time journalists in each community we serve.

BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact

Newspaper’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making a contribution. Together, we can continue to ensure citizens

stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM/CIPATRON CONTACT US 16225 Impact Way, Ste. 1, Pflugerville, TX 78660 • 512-989-6808 PRESS RELEASES nwanews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

FROMGREG: Hello all! I am excited to join the Community Impact Newspaper team as we continue to offer the stories that matter to you. Never has there been a more important time to explain how local government works and how local businesses adapt to the ever-changing economy. Those in health care and education have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, but in ways you might not have considered. This month Senior Reporter Iain Oldman looks at Concordia University Texas’ response to the coronavirus pandemic. Give his story a read, and I look forward to hearing from you in 2021! Greg Perliski, EDITOR

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Road project updates 3

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Local events 11

Local sources 29

New businesses 16

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

45 TOLL

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PECAN PARK BLVD.

LAKELINE MALL DR.

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WINDY TERRACE

MOPAC

WELLS BRANCH PKWY.

LAKE CREEK PKWY.

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Colbert’s Culinary Creations

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POND SPRINGS RD.

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Pizza & Grinders opened Dec. 16 at 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd., Austin. The restaurant, owned by the same restau- rant group that runs the nearby District Kitchen + Cocktails, serves hot and cold grinders and Greek-style pizza in the tradition of Connecticut diners. 512-770-1385. www.shortiespizza.com 12 Herman Miller opened its third nationwide brick-and-mortar retail store at 11701 Domain Blvd., Ste. 124, Austin, in Domain Northside on Dec. 11. The retailer sells a range of high-end oce chairs. 512-333-1664. www.hermanmiller.com 13 Oh K Dog in early December opened at the food court inside H Mart at 11301 Lakeline Blvd., Ste. 124, Austin. The restaurant sells popular Korean street foods, such as egg toast and its signature rice hot dogs, which are deep fried and lled with mozzarella cheese, squid ink and other ingredients. www.ohkdog.com 14 Fit ATX in late November opened its studio at 8650 Spicewood Springs Road, Ste. 201, Austin. The studio oers personal strength training for customers of all experience levels. Fit ATX provides training services through appointment only. Facebook: FitATX 15 Holiday confectionary seller 38 Pecans in early November opened a storefront at 12034 Research Blvd., Ste. 4, Austin. Owner Mark Walls is a third generation pecan grower and sources his products from his family’s grove in Seguin. The seasonal shop will be open through Jan. 15, but Walls said customers can continue to order products and gifts through 38 Pecans’ website. 512-393-9894. www.38pecans.com COMING SOON 16 Primary care clinic One Medical is opening a location in North Austin at 3001 Palm Way, Ste. 134, Austin. Accord- ing to its website, One Medical provides care for chronic illnesses, mental health, common maladies, and provides wellness and preventive care services. www.onemedical.com 17 Dallas-based Picolé Pops is opening its rst Austin location at 11501 Rock Rose Ave., Ste. 156, Austin, according to Domain Northside’s website. The store sells picoles—gourmet Brazilian frozen popsicles—made with an assortment of llings. https://picole.square.site 18 Twisted Automotive is opening in The Domain at 3210 Esperanza Cross- ing, Austin, in the rst quarter of 2021. The automotive company sells custom 35

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SPICEWOOD SPRINGS RD.

GREYSTONE DR.

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CAPITAL OF TEXAS HWY.

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AUSTIN CENTER BLVD.

SHOAL CREEK BLVD.

MAP NOT TO SCALE

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NOWOPEN 1 Luck’s Wagyu Burger Shoppe on Nov. 10 began serving inside Zen Japanese Food Fast at 2900 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. 250, Austin. The small eatery serves Asian fusion burgers made from grass-fed, hormone-free wagyu beef with ingredients such as pickled serrano peppers and honey karashi mustard, with buns from Austin bakery Swedish Hill. 512-451-4811. www.eatzen.com/lucks 2 Domain Northside bakery Bakery Lorraine in early December opened Bar à Vins inside its store. The new natural wine shop, located at 11600 Rock Rose Ave., Ste. 110, Austin, sells a curated selection that can be enjoyed by the glass or bought in bottles to go. 512-300-0300. www.bakerylorraine.com 3 Austin Regional Clinic opened a new clinic in early December at 6818 Austin Center Blvd., Ste. 205, Austin. ARC’s cardiology and gastroenterology services moved into the new clinic from the ARC Far West Medical Tower, located across the street. 512-344-0450. www.austinregionalclinic.com 4 Barkin’ Creek Dog Kitchen & Bath in November opened a pop-up location in Domain Northside at 3200 Palm Way,

Ste. 132, Austin. The pop-up store will remain open as the company waits for the build-out of its nearby permanent location at Ste. 142. This Barkin’ Creek location sells the pet supplies stores’ signa- ture dog meals and treats as well as appar- el, toys and a new line of home accessories designed for dogs. 512-807-0955. www.barkincreek.com 5 Colbert’s Culinary Creations in late September opened inside Manon’s Shared Kitchen at 8309 Research Blvd., Ste. B, Austin. The veteran-owned business pre- pares handmade cakes and family meal boxes for pickup or delivery in Austin. Owner and Executive Chef Deanthony Colbert said he will also oer private chef services. 205-983-1042. www.colbertsculinarycreation.com 6 Personalized T-shirt and apparel com- pany Custom Ink opened in November at 3211 Palm Way, Ste. 154, Austin. Custom Ink prints custom-designed shirts and other clothing for customers. 512-212-5892. www.customink.com 7 Tony C’s Pizza & Beer Garden opened its doors to customers Dec. 17 at 2900 W. Anderson Lane, Bldg. B, Austin. Owners Tony Ciola and Creed Ford IV also operate a group of restaurants that include

The League Kitchen and Tavern, which has three Austin locations. 512-595-7151. www.tonycsbeergarden.com 8 Far East Sports Bar opened Sept. 27 in the downstairs space below China- town’s North Austin restaurant location, 3407 Greystone Drive, Austin. The sports bar had a soft opening early in 2020, but had to close down due to COVID-19 regulations and reopened ocially in 9 La Montaña Taqueria in late August opened its new restaurant at 13233 Pond Springs Road, Ste. 301, Austin. The restau- rant, with one other North Austin location, serves tacos made with trompo al pastor, suadero, cabeza and other authentic Mexi- can ingredients. 512-428-6103. www.taquerialamontana.com 10 Senor Churro joined the takeout cooperative Kitchen United Mix at 8023 Burnet Road, Austin, in September. Senor Churro serves freshly fried churros in classic cinnamon and other avors, including special holiday varieties. It also serves other desserts and beverages, including tres leches and horchata. 512-669-9069. www.senor-churro.com 11 Northeast-inspired eatery Shortie’s September. 512-270-8147. www.fareastsportsbar.com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY IAIN OLDMAN

11

20

Shortie’s Pizza & Grinders

Austin Gourmet Popcorn

COURTESY HAYDEN WALKER FOR SHORTIE’S PIZZA & GRINDERS

COURTESY AUSTIN GOURMET POPCORN

Bashaw’s Steakhouse & Seafood, which opened for dinner services in November, serves steaks sourced from grass-fed cattle. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

models of the British-made Land Rover Defender. 800-832-8841. www.twistedautomotive.com RELOCATIONS 19 Showroom 808 in November opened its new storefront in Domain Northside at 3200 Palm Way, Ste. 136, Austin. The retail space, which is a collaborative eort that showcases the art and fashion of local female entrepreneurs, relocated from 10222 Pecan Park Blvd., Ste. 13, Austin. 512-736-2502. www.showroom808.com ANNIVERSARIES 20 Austin Gourmet Popcorn in October celebrated ve years of business at 13343 Research Blvd., Ste. 250, Austin. The shop sells more than 60 types of popcorn avors. 512-351-9059. www.austingourmetpopcorn.com

21 Local vintner Bent Oak Winery this fall marked ve years of business at 2000 Windy Terrace, Bldg. 2-B, Cedar Park. Bent Oak makes its wines with grapes sourced from across Texas, includ- ing grapes from its own backyard vines. 512-953-8094. www.bentoakwinery.com 22 Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar in Novem- ber celebrated its fth year of service at 8300 N. RM 620, Unit E, Austin. The eatery serves American dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. 737-222-5779. www.oasthouseaustin.com CLOSINGS 23 Gringa’s Tacos closed at its location at 10025 Burnet Road, Austin, in early December. The restaurant posted on social media it is searching for a new lo- cation. www.facebook.com/gringastacos

FEATURED IMPACT NOWOPEN New Northwest Austin restaurant Bashaw’s Steakhouse & Seafood rst opened to customers in late November. The upscale, white-cloth restaurant oers a menu of classic steakhouse fare, including New York strips and bone-in ribeyes. All of Bashaw’s steaks are grass- fed, prime meat and the restaurant also serves seafood selections such as lobster tail and baked sea bass. Bashaw’s features live entertainment on the weekends, hosting jazz trios, singers and pianists.

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6507 Jester Blvd., Ste. 105, Austin 512-607-7417. www.bashawsteakhouse.com

Our focus is you. When you come to ARA for imaging, you have the full attention of our expert diagnostic physicians. All our experience and technology is focused on the best possible outcome for your health. With 17 imaging centers and a 98% patient satisfaction rate, ARA is here to serve you . SCHEDULE AT AUSRAD.COM OR 512.453.6100

ARA radiologists Dr. Ryan Vancura and Dr. Arthy Saravanan

Free 1lb bulk dog biscuits

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

TODO LIST

January-April events

COMPILED BY IAIN OLDMAN

JAN. 810

JAN. 1516

PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDERS HEB CENTER AT CEDAR PARK

FEB. 20& MARCH 6

HILL COUNTRY HIKING SERIES MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

HOLISTIC ANDMETAPHYSICAL EXPO THE NORRIS CENTER

JANUARY 13 FREE VIRTUAL CONCERT BY THE DEER The Long Center for Performing Arts is producing a series of free performances from Austin musicians. The musical acts record full sets in the center’s Rollins Studio Theatre. Attendees can access the performances exclusively through www.luck.stream. For its Jan. 13 installment, Good Vibes Only is hosting Austin folk group The Deer for viewers. Stream begins at 7 p.m. Free, but donations are encouraged. 512-474-5664. www.thelongcenter.com 15 HISTORICAL HIKEWITH BUFFALO SOLDIERS Texas Parks and Wildlife invites hikers to go on a socially distanced hike to learn about the history of Texas. As part of the Bualo Soldier program, historical actors in full costume will educate attendees on the life of soldiers while hiking on a trail at McKinney Falls State Park. Interested hikers must rst register for a spot and purchase a park entry pass. $6 per vehicle. Hiking times vary. 512-389-8569. www.tpwd.texas.gov 21 AUSTINVIRTUAL JOB FAIR Best Hire Career Fairs is hosting a virtual event for all jobseekers in the Austin area. Attendees can speak with and distribute resumes to hiring managers from employers across multiple professional elds. Jobseekers are encouraged to dress professionally for the virtual event. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Free. 888-899-8802. www.besthirecareerfairs.com One of Austin’s largest metaphysical expos returns. Attendees are invited to learn holistic practices and learn from practitioners, including astrologists, palm readers and more. Times vary by day. $8 admission each day. The Norris Center, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, Ste. 365, Austin. www.spirituallifeproductions.org

Professional Bull Riders starts its 2021 season with more than 40 bull riders competing in events. Seating inside the arena includes safety protocols and distancing measures. Door times vary. Tickets start at $18. H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, 2100 Avenue of the Stars, Cedar Park. 800-732-1727. www.pbr.com

REI Gateway is oering hiking classes throughout the winter and spring. REI will take hikers on guided tours of trails at the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve. Times vary. $20 (REI members), $25 (nonmembers). Locations vary. 512-343-5550. www.rei.com

NEWYEAR’S EVE VIRTUAL BUBBLES & CHEESE

WORTHTHE TRIP 14THANNUAL BLUES FESTIVAL JAN. 16 Luckenbach’s annual

Antonelli’s Cheese hosts a virtual sparkling wine and cheese tasting class on New Year’s Eve. Participants pick up cheese plates, a bottle of a sparkling red wine and a bottle of a sparkling white wine from the shop prior to the event and join a Zoom class to practice pairing with an Antonelli’s cheesemonger. The tasting is followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. 6:30 p.m. $70 (per person), $110 (per couple). Pick up at 500 Park Blvd., Austin. 512-531-9610. www.antonellischeese.com ROARING 20S COCKTAIL PARTY The Roosevelt Room is hosting its annual Roaring 20s New Year’s Eve Party with a special Prohibition-era cocktail menu. The downtown cocktail bar will also oer a New Year’s Eve champagne list with seven high-end bottle options. Formal or semi-formal attire is requested for guests in attendance. Doors open at 8 p.m. Pricing begins at $50 per seat. The Roosevelt Room, 307 W. Fifth St., Unit B, Austin. 512-494-4094. Recording artist Lucinda Williams is hosting a night of Rolling Stones tribute covers performed virtually by personally curated musicians and full bands. Funds raised during the live stream concert will go toward supporting independent music venues. Show starts at 7 p.m. $25-$40. 877-534-9849. www.acl-live.com www.therooseveltroomatx.com STREAMING ACL LIVE CONCERT

LUCKENBACH RD.

1376

LUCKENBACH TOWN LOOP

celebration of blues returns in January as an outdoor-only concert. The 2021 lineup features contemporary blues musicians John Bardy, Anthony Wright, Ally Venable and other acts. Doors open at 11 a.m. $30. 412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Fredericksburg. 830-997-3224. www.luckenbachtexas.com ‘ALMOST, MAINE’ AT THEGEORGETOWN PALACE THEATRE MARCH26APRIL 25 The Georgetown Palace Theatre is staging a production of John Cariani’s “Almost, Maine.” The play is a series of vignettes about love and couples. Price and show times TBD. 810 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown. 512-869-7469. www.georgetownpalace.com N N

UNIVERSITY AVE.

Find more or submit Northwest Austin events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

great prices.

great cause.

Open to the Public 500 W Ben White Blvd Austin, TX 78704 @atxrestore Discount Home Improvement Store and Donation Center

6

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

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11700 Elk Park Trl, Austin, TX 78759 Catherine Hall | 512-217-4196

11813 Terraza Cir, Austin, TX 78726 Chris Poynor | 512-554-9712

ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT

ACTIVE UNDER CONTRACT

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Avery Ranch (PS–8) (512) 341-8000 15101 Avery Ranch Boulevard, Austin Round Rock (PS–K) (512) 255-8844 1521 Joyce Lane, Round Rock Spicewood Springs (PS–K) (512) 258-1299 13015 Pond Springs Road, Austin

3 bds

2.5 ba 2,521 sq ft

3 bds

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5728 Misty Hill Cv, Austin, TX 78759 Susan Patterson | 512-850-4411

10504 Lark Ct, Austin, TX 78758 Jeffrey Schnabel | 512-913-7480

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© 2020, Challenger Schools Challenger School admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

$239,000

$225,000

3 bds

2.5 ba 1,238 sq ft

3 bds

2.5 ba 1,376 sq ft

8400 Jamestown Dr #210, Austin, TX 78758 Rachel Lasseter | 512-576-4713

13420 Lyndhurst St #707, Austin, TX 78729 Kevin Hutchison | 512-740-4663

An independent private school offering preschool through eighth grade

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

8

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Capital Metro pilots fare-capping tomake transit more equitable Regional transit agency Capital

COMPILED BY JACK FLAGLER & IAIN OLDMAN

PASSES VS. SINGLE RIDES

31-day pass 40 single rides

A transit user who takes the bus or MetroRail twice a day, ve times a week paying single fares pays more than a rider with a 31-day pass.

$140

150

120

of the pass miss out on the discount and ultimately pay more to use public transportation than those with the means to aord the pass. A new pilot program from Capital Metro is aimed at addressing that inequity. The program, which started in October and runs for six months, will track customers’ rides and automatically cap the associated fares daily and by month. If a customer takes a third ride on public transportation in one day, it is free because that individual has already exceeded the fare for a day pass. Also, if a customer pays by ride and hits the cost of a monthly pass within a 31-day period, they will ride for free for the rest of the month. Participants can sign up online at Capital Metro’s website for the initiative if they are already enrolled in certain public aid programs. After the initial program ends, Chief Finan- cial Ocer Reinet Marneweck said

$96.25

Metro oers riders who use public transportation frequently a discount if they buy a pass rather than paying ride-by-ride. On local service, including buses and the University of Texas shuttle, someone who takes the bus twice a day, ve days a week, would pay $50 per month for those commutes if paying for each ride. If that person bought a 31-day pass, the cost would be $41.25. Similarly, riders who take the Met- roRail or a MetroExpress route from outside of town into the city would pay $140 in a month if they paid for each ride, but that total cost goes down to $96.25 for a 31-day pass. The system rewards riders who use public transportation frequently and encourages commuting using transit by oering a discount. However, it also creates a barrier: Those who are not able to aord the upfront cost

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SOURCE: CAPITAL METRO COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

60

$50

$41.25

30

0

Local service Commuter service

certain retail stores to load credit onto their Capital Metro phone app. The transaction is made with a bar code displayed by the app. The two new initiatives, which cost $133,230, according to Marneweck, are part of a $30 million investment in technology and systems that Capital Metro plans to make over the next four years as

the public transit organization hopes to expand the program to wider use. “We will have up to 200 par- ticipants, and we will get their input towards designing the future program,” Marneweck said. In addition to the fare-capping system, Capital Metro has added new technology to its mobile phone app for customers who do not have a credit card or do not want to use one to load their account with cash. Those individuals can pay cash at

part of Project Connect—the $7.1 billion transit plan voters approved in early November.

ONGOING PROJECTS

620

35

BULLICK HOLLOW RD.

2222

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MCNEIL DR.

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LAKE CREEK PKWY.

W. YAGER LN.

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RM 2222 improvements A third eastbound lane is now open on RM 2222 from River Place Boulevard to McNeil Drive. The next stage of work will widen RM 2222. Timeline: fall 2018-late 2021

Anderson Mill Road improvements A westbound lane near the intersection of Anderson Mill Road and US 183 will be closed intermittently for several weeks. Timeline: July 2019-late 2021

Parmer Lane diverging diamond TxDOT crews are working on the I-35 southbound frontage road between Parmer Lane and Yager Lane to con- nect to a future bypass lane. Timeline: July 2020-mid-2021

State crews work to prepare the new bypass at RM620 and RM2222. (Courtesy Texas Department of Transportation)

ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF DEC. 11. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT NWANEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATION City receives state clearance to start on next chunk of N. Lamar corridor safety projects

The North Lamar Boulevard corridor is one of Austin’s most hazardous roadways. The Austin Transportation Department identied it as a high-injury roadway, making it one of 13 roads citywide that account for 70% of Austin’s severe trac injuries and fatalities. In response, the city recently nished a handful of intersection improvements, including high-visibility crosswalks and new trac lights, which will help with pedestrian and vehicle safety. Several more of these projects are planned through 2024. BUI LDING A SAFER ROAD

BY IAIN OLDMAN

Braker Lane as part of these future projects. These improvements are currently under design, Martin said, and are scheduled to be nished in segments from 2022-24. The intersection work planned throughout the North Lamar corridor will help to deliver increased safety to a section of road that has historically been a hazardous route to travel by bike, foot and automobile. Austin Transportation has identied the North Lamar corridor as one of the city’s 13 high-injury roadways. These roadways make up just 8% of the city’s streets, but account for approximately 70% of severe injuries and fatalities citywide, Martin said. “It has been a historic problem,” Martin said. “There is a lack of safe pedestrian crossing [on North Lamar,] and in a lot of places just a lack of sidewalks.” According to data collected by Austin Trans- portation, there have been seven trac-related fatalities on North Lamar from US 183 to West Parmer Lane since 2016. City crews will add a large chunk of sidewalk that will help with pedestrian safety next spring. The Corridor Program Oce in October started construction on a half-mile stretch of shared-use path from Caddo Street to the entrance of the On the Green apartment complex. Martin added the city expects to start work on crosswalk safety improvements around the nearby Wooldridge Elementary School in summer 2021 as part of the Safe Routes to School program. Ultimately, the project will add protected bicycle lanes, trac signal improvements and lane realignments along Parkeld Drive between Mearns Meadow Boulevard and Payton Gin Road. A total of 11 pedestrian crossing islands and raised crossings will be added to neighbor- hood streets near Wooldridge Elementary.

Months after breaking ground on the rst of myriad roadway projects, the city of Austin is continuing work along the North Lamar Boule- vard corridor to deliver a safer thoroughfare for pedestrians and drivers. New crosswalks and trac signals have already been installed on the southern end of the corridor—near the North Lamar Transit Center at the road’s intersection with US 183—and con- struction is underway on yet more pedestrian mobility improvements. The city of Austin’s Corridor Program Oce completed safety improvements at North Lamar’s intersections at Faireld Drive, Coo- per Drive, Grady Drive and Payton Gin Road. Construction of a new crosswalk and trac signal at the intersection with West Powell Lane is expected to be done by the end of December, according to Anna Martin, assistant director with the Austin Transportation Department. With this handful of pedestrian safety projects coming to an end, city sta can now pivot its attention to a series of roadway improvements that recently received environmental clearances from the Texas Department of Transportation. According to a Nov. 18 news release from the Corridor Program Oce, a series of projects along the North Lamar corridor—dened as running from US 183 to Howard Lane—may now proceed with construction. These improvements will add new trac signals, intersection mod- ications, bus stop improvements, shared-use paths, median installations, drainage improve- ments and 6 miles of pavement rehabilitation. “There are sections on North Lamar that don’t have a drainage system and that’s why we don’t have sidewalks, so we’ll be installing a drainage system,” Martin said. City crews will realign crosswalks at Rundberg Lane and will add a westbound right turn lane at

KEY

Corridor length Recently completed projects Site of trac fatality since 2016 Future construction 2022-24

MOPAC

35

BRAKER & N. LAMAR • Will add westbound right turn lane

CADDO ST.

MEARNSMEADOW

PARKFIELD DR.

RUNDBERG & N. LAMAR • Will realign crosswalks

COOPER DR.

183

*

MAP NOT TO SCALE N

*CONSTRUCTION IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF DECEMBER.

SOURCES: AUSTIN CORRIDOR PROGRAM OFFICE, AUSTIN DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATIONCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

THROUGH THE YEARS

“Live PD” rst lmed in Williamson County in 2018. Here is a look at key events involving the county, the show and pending litigation.

April A complaint led by a Georgetown lawyer alleges that WSCO Commander Steve Deaton told deputies it was his goal for one of them to have sex with a producer of “Live PD.”

2016

2017

2018

2019

July 16 “Live PD” contract ends.

Oct. 28 “Live PD” rst airs on A&E Network.

Jan. 2 Robert Chody takes oce as county sheri.

Nov. 20 An agreement is drafted with Big Fish Entertainment LLC, which produces the show, and Williamson County Sheri’s Oce to lm “Live PD.”

Jan. 1 Bill Gravell takes oce as county judge.

Jan. 9 Chody presents the “Live PD” contract to the Commissioners Court, but a vote is postponed for further questions. Jan. 16 Commissioners agree to contract with Big Fish Entertainment and “Live PD” for six months.

March 28 Javier Ambler dies while in WCSO custody. “Live PD” lmed but did not air the incident.

May 7 The “Live PD” contract renewal appears on commissioners’ agenda. May 21 Commissioners vote 3-2 to allow the WCSO to continue lming “Live PD.”

‘Live PD’ will continue to costWilliamson County despite newsherielected sheri and the four county commissioners after the court learned Chody had entered into a written contract with Big Fish Entertainment LLC, which produces “Live PD,” to allow lming of the show in the county. his headlights to oncoming trac, documents show. The pursuit continued into Travis County where Ambler ultimately crashed his vehicle and then was tased four times by WCSO deputies before becoming unresponsive, county documents said. Williamson County will have a new sheri Jan. 1 after Robert Chody lost his re-election bid in November, but the ramications of Chody’s tenure, including an unauthorized contract with “Live PD,” will continue to cost the county and taxpayers money for years to come. BY ALI LINAN

By law, only the court has ultimate authority to enter into contracts on behalf of the county, accord- ing to the Texas Association of Counties. In doing so, Chody sidestepped the court’s authority. Precinct 4 Commissioner Russ Boles said he believed the sheri was obsessed with being on TV. “In his pursuit of personal fame, he illegally contracted with ‘Live PD’ and may have exposed the county to massive liability,” Boles said during an Oct. 5 commissioner meeting. “There is no question about it: The county has incurred substantial legal fees because of him, to get him to stop.” On Nov. 10, the court dropped its similar lawsuit against Big Fish Entertainment, which in turn dropped its countersuit against the county. Chody and his attorney for this case, Eric Taube, denied several requests for comment on the lawsuit. The second major lawsuit ties Chody to the death-in-custody case of Javier Ambler for evidence tampering. This is headed by Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick. In March 2019, Ambler engaged in a 22-minute car chase with WCSO deputies after failing to dim

On the night of Ambler’s death, “Live PD” was present and recorded but did not air the incident. At the time, there was no court-approved contract in place. That recording has since been deleted by “Live PD” due to a clause in the contract that called for the destruction of any unused footage after 30 days. That night, Chody also called Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell at least six times between 2:21 a.m. and 11:10 a.m., totaling nine minutes, according to phone records obtained by Commu- nity Impact Newspaper . Gravell said while he was informed of a death in custody that morning, he did not know “Live PD” was present nor the name Javier Ambler until the incident was reported on by local news outlets in June 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement was reignited after the death of George Floyd. Gravell has since recused himself on all matters relating to “Live PD” and Ambler, including the commissioners contract lawsuit. “Obviously a death in custody is a serious matter, but it happened in Travis County jurisdiction, so I knew there would be good investigative measures put in place,” Gravell said.

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 2, the county has paid out about $236,000 from its general budget in contract litigation fees, but commissioners warn they anticipate more lawsuits and therefore more fees in the future as there is a two-year statute of limitations to le a suit. “We’ll be paying Chody-[related] lawsuits for years to come,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Terry Cook said. As of Nov. 6, the county has incurred 20 lawsuits and complaints concerning allegations against the Williamson County Sheri’s Oce. Of those, three have been settled through nancial means for a combined total of about $303,900. “We’ll still be facing lawsuits into my rst term, long after [Chody has] left,” said incoming William- son County Sheri Mike Gleason, who will be sworn in on Jan. 1. “So there will be a continued nancial impact on the county as far as lawsuits.” Legal woes For the latter half of 2020, two major lawsuits have been led against Chody. The rst, which began in May, is between the

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

July-August Public commenters call for the ending of “Live PD” and resignation of Chody in his handling of Deaton for controversial social media posts and comments.

April Chody welcomed camera crews to join WCSO Lt. Grayson Kennedy on a vehicle patrol for the purposes of being on “Live PD.”

2020

2021

Sept. 2 Deaton resigns.

Sept. 25 Chody is indicted by a grand jury for evidence tampering in the Ambler case. Sept. 28 Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick speaks publicly on Chody’s indictment. Sept. 30 Chody petitions to keep sworn testimony sealed from the public in a contract dispute with commissioners.

Oct. 7 In a statement posted on Twitter, Chody said he has proof that his indictment was not based on evidence tampering but on political opposition.

Nov. 3 Chody loses his re- election bid to Mike Gleason 43.94% to 56.06%. Nov. 10 Commissioners drop the lawsuit against Big Fish Entertainment. Nov. 30 First evidence tampering hearing held.

Aug. 20 Commissioners vote unanimously to end the “Live PD” contract. Aug. 24 Williamson County makes its nal approved contract appearance on “Live PD.”

April 28 Four commissioners vote to send a cease-and- desist letter to all “Live PD” aliates after Chody ignored their decision to terminate its contract.

May 5 Commissioners vote to hire an attorney to handle “Live PD” matters. May 19 Commissioners vote 4-0 to issue a lawsuit against Chody for continuing to allow “Live PD” to lm after the court ordered him to stop.

June 8 News of Ambler’s death while in WCSO custody breaks. June 9 Commissioners and local state ocials call for Chody’s resignation. June 10

A&E Network cancels “Live PD” following

The events from the night of Ambler’s death and those that may have occurred after led a grand jury to indict Chody and Assistant Williamson County Attorney Jason Nassour on Sept. 25. The oense of evidence tampering is a third-degree felony, which carries a punishment range of two to 10 years in state prison or proba- tion and up to a $10,000 ne, documents said. On the charges brought against him, Chody has claimed the district attorney has no actual proof of evidence tampering. Instead, he said in an Oct. 7 tweet that the district attorney only had evidence in relation to Chody’s contract dispute with the commissioners and had issued the indictment as a political move against his campaign, as his re-election bid was six weeks away. Chody’s Twitter account has since been deactivated. Dick said the accusation was untrue as his team had yet to turn over its discovery to Chody’s attorneys. “We didn’t choose this timing,” Dick said during a Sept. 28 news conference. “This inci- dent happened a long time ago; the Williamson County District Attorney’s Oce was just notied in May of 2020 of the death. That led us to start an investigation, and we’ve done that diligently as rapidly as we could.” When asked for an update on the lawsuit following the election results, Chody’s attorney Gerry Morris had no comment. Chody denied several requests for comment on the subject.

protests on police misconduct against Black men and people of color.

There are two main lawsuits surrounding Williamson County Sheri Robert Chody and “Live PD.” A TALE OF TWO CASES Williamson County Commissioners Court v. Robert Chody State of Texas v. Robert Chody

What now? In Travis County where Chody could also face charges, a grand jury will begin to hear evidence in the case in early 2021, former Tra- vis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said Sept. 28. In Williamson County, Dick said he intends to prosecute Chody even though he is leaving oce. He added he believes it will take at least a year or more before the evidence tampering case goes to trial, as the court system is also dealing with complications related to the coronavirus pandemic. This could further delay the start of the trial, and from there it could be a multiyear process, he said. During a Nov. 30 hearing, the team of Dick, Dee McWilliams and Mike Waldman as well as the defense attorneys for Chody and Nassour agreed to a Jan. 4 date for a pretrial conference hearing to work through several motions led. As for a “Live PD,” both Gravell and Gleason said there is no future for it as long as they are in oce.

Chody entered a contract with Big Fish Entertainment to lm “Live PD” without commissioners’ consent

What are they arguing?

Chody tampered with evidence in the Javier Ambler death case

Williamson County’s four commissioners against

Chody and Jason Nassour against District Attorney Shawn Dick on behalf of the state

Who is involved?

Chody and Big Fish Entertainment LLC

When did this lawsuit begin?

Commissioners voted to sue Chody on May 19

Chody was indicted by a grand jury Sept. 25

Commissioners said Nov. 10 they are in talks with Chody’s lawyers to drop the case; however, the lawsuit was still pending as of press time

The DA’s oce and defense attorneys will meet Jan. 4 to discuss submitted motions

Current status

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • DECEMBER 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News from Austin & Travis & Williamson counties

Austin extends eviction protections into spring 2021

County to submit revised wording for historicmarker

another extension in the spring. He said until the federal and state government provide adequate aid, extending eviction protections is “the only responsible thing for local governments to do.” The timeline for the extension, Casar said, lines up with what he has heard fromMayor Steve Adler regarding an extension of his sep- arate mayoral orders, which ban landlords from issuing notices to vacate to tenants for nonpayment of rent. The current mayoral order expires Dec. 31. Adler said Dec. 10 that he intends to extend the deadline but did not publicly oer a timeline. Travis County’s ve justices of the peace have not been hearing cases on evictions for nonpayment of rent during the pandemic. Precinct 5 Judge Nick

BY CHRISTOPHER NEELY

EVICTION HELP Austin City Council voted to extend eviction protections for local renters. Under the order: • landlords must rst provide a “notice of proposed eviction” to tenants; • tenants then have 60 days to pay back missed rent; and • extension will protect tenants through May 5.

BY TAYLOR GIRTMAN

AUSTIN City Council extended a 60-day grace period protecting Austin renters from eviction Dec. 10. The ordinance, which was set to expire Dec. 31, adds a step before landlords can issue tenants a notice to vacate, a document required before ling an eviction in court. That extra step oers a grace period and requires landlords to rst provide a “notice of proposed eviction” to tenants. From the day the notice is issued, tenants then have 60 days to pay back the missed rent that triggered the proposed eviction. The protection is now in place through March 5, which means tenants are protected through May 5. District 4 Council Member Greg Casar said he expects the rules to receive

WILLIAMSONCOUNTY Following a Dec. 15 vote, the Commissioners Court will submit a wording change to the Texas Historical Commission for a plaque on the county courthouse. The Williamson County Historical Commission reviewed the supple- mental plaque on the courthouse “due to potential inaccuracies,” according to county documents. The plaque is located on the south side of the courthouse in Georgetown. The revision would read “Afri- can-Americans comprised ten percent of the population in 1850, more than nineteen percent by 1860 and were Williamson County’s largest ethnic group.” According to county docu- ments, this change “better reects the African-American contribution to Williamson County.” The new plaque would cost the county about $500. Austin City Council meets Thursdays at 10 a.m. at Austin City Hall, 301 W. Second St., Austin. 512-974-2250 www.austintexas.gov/department/ city-council Travis County Commissioners Court meets Tuesdays at 9 a.m. at the Travis County Administration Building, 700 Lavaca St., Austin www.traviscountytx.gov Williamson County Commissioners Court meets Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. MEETINGSWE COVER

SOURCE: CITY OF AUSTINCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Chu said judges would not hear such cases until Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted his disaster declaration related to the coronavirus. Chu commented that he expects this judicial policy to last until February and then to be extended by the Texas Supreme Court.

Health ocials say COVID19 spreadmoving in thewrong direction

how to make it any more clear that what we’re doing now as a commu- nity is not working,” Escott said. With a seven-day moving average of 47 daily hospital admissions related to COVID-19 in the Austin area, Travis County is on the verge of reaching Stage 5 risk, which carries the highest level of recom- mended restrictions. Austin Public Health leaders could recommend the shift to Stage 5 once the average number of daily admis- sions reaches 50 or 60. Escott said the spike is also partly from Thanksgiving gatherings, and a repeat over Christmas or New

BY OLIVIA ALDRIDGE

COVID19 BY THE NUMBERS

TRAVIS COUNTY Dr. Mark Escott, interimAustin-Travis County health authority, warned that COVID-19 transmission trends are rising at an alarming pace, threatening to restrict hospital capacity in the comingweeks. In a Dec. 15 presentation to the Travis County Commissioners Court, Escott said active coronavirus cases are up by 45% since Dec. 1, and hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions are up by 28% and 13%, respectively. “This is bad. We’re moving in the wrong direction. I really don’t know

Local coronavirus cases have returned to their summer peak numbers over the past several weeks. Since Dec. 1: Active cases are up 45% Hopsitalizations are up 28% ICU admissions are up 13%

SOURCE: AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER *All data as of Dec. 15.

at the Williamson County Courthouse, 710 Main St., Georgetown

Year’s Day could risk moving Travis County into a scenario similar to the El Paso area.

512-943-1100 www.wilco.org

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