Northwest Austin Edition - May 2020

NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION

VOLUME 14, ISSUE 4  MAY 29JUNE 25, 2020

ONLINE AT

BUSINESS IN uncharted waters

Establishments split on howtosafely reopen doors togeneral public

BY IAIN OLDMAN AND JACK FLAGLER

After two months of operating under the coronavi- rus pandemic, business and restaurant owners across Northwest Austin in mid-May got the go-ahead that many were waiting on. Quarantine is eectively over. Customers can come inside. For many, the allowance presents a golden oppor- tunity, however faint it may be, to generate much- needed revenue at a time when cash ow has fallen o a cli. But other business owners are now forced to weigh the decision to stay closed and gate o whatever money can be made with restrictive capacity limits, or open their doors and potentially put themselves and their employees at risk. On May 18, Gov. Greg Abbott made it ocial—Texas has entered Phase 2 of his plan to reopen the state’s economy. This phase expands restaurant capacity for dine-in services to 50%, granted the restaurants can guaran- tee safe social distancing standards. In the weekend CONTINUED ON 18

Diners have returned to bars and restaurants after the state allowed dine-in services to resume.

 ERICH WEIDNER, OWNER OF EMERALD TAVERN GAMES & CAFE " No business is going to be successful operating at 25%-50% capacity. "

Blake Brown, an employee at Emerald Tavern Games & Cafe, on May 2 serves a customer for the rst time in six weeks.

A waitress serves customers a drink at Cyclone Anaya’s Tex- Mex Cantina in Domain Northside on a hot afternoon in May.

Ben Sabel, founder and brewer at Circle Brewing Co., pours a beer at the brewery's taproom in North Austin.

Reunion Barbershop owner Ashley “Ace” Gibbs will not reopen her business until early June due to health concerns.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

LEARN ABOUT AUSTIN’S Water Quality

For more than 100 years, Austin Water has been committed to providing safe, reliable, high quality drinking water with a focus on sustainable and affordable services to our customers. Austin Water’s 2019 Consumer Confidence Report provides facts about the safety and quality of your drinking water, which meets all state and federal standards. Quality Austin Water tests your drinking water several times each day as it passes through the distribution system, and our water meets and exceeds EPA regulations. Value/Affordability For the cost of a 20 oz. bottle of water, you can buy around 300 gallons of Austin’s tap water and it tastes great! Environment Choosing drinking water from Austin Water is environmentally sound because no fuel is used to transport plastic water bottles and no petroleum is used to create the plastic. And, no plastic bottles go in the landfill. You can find the 2019 Consumer Confidence Report online at the link below, or call 512-972-0155 to receive a copy by email or mail.

Austin Water Quality Report 2019 Austinwater.org/WaterQuality Para una versión en Español llame al 512-972-0155

austinwater.org

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

FROMPHYLLIS: One of the biggest news stories of late has been the reopening of many of our area businesses. While our economy depends on consumer condence to prosper, it also requires businesses to anticipate changes in buying trends to innovate accordingly. We feel there is plenty of creativity and insight in our local business community, as readers will see in this issue.

PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett PUBLISHERAUSTINMETRO Travis Baker GENERAL MANAGER Phyllis Campos, pcampos@communityimpact.com EDITORIAL

Phyllis Campos, GENERALMANAGER

EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Lanane MANAGING EDITOR Joe Warner ASSOCIATEMANAGING EDITOR Amy Denney EDITOR Iain Oldman COPY CHIEF Andy Comer COPY EDITORS Ben Dickerson, Kasey Salisbury STAFFWRITERS Olivia Aldridge, Nicholas Cicale, Jack Flagler, Ali Linan, Christoper Neely CONTRIBUTINGWRITERS Emma Freer ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Taylor Caranfa DESIGN CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Haley Grace GRAPHIC DESIGNER Mel Stea STAFF DESIGNERS Chance Flowers, Kara Nordstrom, Monica Romo BUSINESS GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Claire Love ABOUT US John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, Texas. The company’s mission is to build communities of informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. CONTACT US 16225 Impact Way, Ste. 1 Pugerville, TX 78660 • 5129896808 communityimpact.com 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.

FROM IAIN: Every decade, the U.S. census is counted on to determine population, representatives in Congress and more. This time around is no dierent, despite the interruptions of a pandemic. In this issue, reporter Ali Linan breaks down how Travis and Williamson counties have participated in past census counts and explains which groups have been historically hard to count.

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Now Open, Local Hotspots &more TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES 9 New rail line added to transit plan DEVELOPMENT 11 Pandemic may aect oce construction EDUCATION BRIEFS 13 News from area school districts CITY& COUNTY 15 The latest local news

Iain Oldman, EDITOR

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

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Local sources 22

New businesses 8

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Intersection improvements

Oce developments planned

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BUSINESS FEATURE Pinballz Arcade rents machines DINING FEATURE Tso Chinese Delivery feeds teachers CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE Businesses prepare for reopening INSIDE INFORMATION Counties push for full census count REAL ESTATE

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Residential market data IMPACT DEALS

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

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IMPACTS

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

LAKELINE MALL DR.

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Ski Shores Cafe opened its new loca- tion at 1608 Barton Springs Road, Aus- tin, on May 1. Both the new location and the original are open for takeout and dine-in with limited capacity. The original Ski Shores opened in 1954 along Lake Austin. 737-222-5600. www.skishoresaustin.com COMING SOON DoubleTake Austin , a resale and gift shop, will open as soon as it is safe to do so at 6318 Burnet Road, Austin, in the former location of The Lightbulb Shop. According to store General Manager Lynne Skinner, 100% of the prots will go to the Center for Child Protection, a nonprot that works to reduce trauma for children who are suspected victims of sexual or physical abuse or have witnessed a violent crime. 512-922-5844.

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www.doubletakeatx.org LAKE TRAVIS NOWOPEN Kitchen on the Bend opened

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March 20 at 3519 N. RM 620, Austin. The Italian-style restaurant oers pizza, burgers, salads and pasta dishes. Proprietors Barret Brannam and J. Fowlkes said customers are encouraged to make reservations. The restaurant is also open for takeout and curbside pickup. 512-428-4744. www.kitchenonthebend.com

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LEANDER NOWOPEN

NOWOPEN 1 Pacic eatery Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill opened its takeout-only restaurant May 4 at 8023 Burnet Road, Austin, in the new Kitchen United Mix building. The restaurant serves platters and sand- wiches inspired by classic Hawaiian fare, including luau pig and Huli Huli chicken, which is Hawaiian Bros.’s signature dish. Customers have the option of ordering takeout through the restaurant, though delivery is also oered as an option through third-party companies. Hawaiian Bros. is the rst restaurant to open in Austin’s new Kitchen United Mix building. 2 Local restaurant chain Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse on April 27 opened its new- est location at 4005 W. Parmer Lane, Ste. E, Austin. Owner John McElroy said the restaurant—which sells specialty pizza such as the El Nacho, the Ground Control and the Major Tom—is oering curbside pickup of its pizza, and custom- ers may get their growlers lled with Texas craft beer. Aviator Pizza & Draft- house oers more than 20 specialty pizza options, including some original recipes, as well as grinders, calzones and salads. The restaurant’s bar has taps for 50 craft 512-777-2916, ext. 2230. www.hawaiianbros.com

ANNIVERSARIES 6 Northwest Austin eatery Galaxy Cafe on June 1 celebrates ve years of business at 8127 Mesa Drive, Ste. A-100, Austin. The local chain, with two other locations in Austin, serves elevated diner fare with burger options, salads, pasta dishes, a breakfast menu and more. Galaxy Cafe is currently oering curbside pickup. 512-369-3488. www.galaxycafeaustin.com 7 Papalote Taco House , located at 12319 N. US 183, Ste. 100, Austin, on June 15 will celebrate ve years of serv- ing customers in Northwest Austin. The authentic Mexican restaurant serves spe- cialty tacos, including puerco en pipian, deshebrada, puerco con verdelagos, tinga de res and pescado a las brasas. 512-840-0745. www.yumpapalote.com IN THE NEWS 8 On April 29, Austin approved a revised site plan from Apple Inc. for its Northwest Austin campus that includes a new hotel. According to the revised site plan, the 6-story hotel will feature 192 rooms and will be 75,500 square feet large. Apple broke ground on its new campus, located at 6900 W. Parmer Lane, Austin, in November 2019. www.apple.com

beers. 512-582-0097. www.aviatorpizza.com

Humble Pint Brewing Co. , a fami- ly-owned craft brewery, opened April 22 at 11880 Hero Way West, Ste. 208, Leander, and sells beer, food and merchandise online. Beers include Yard’s Done Blonde, Hillsdale Pale and Benny Brown Ale. Beer is available as two-packs, four-packs and 64-ounce growlers. Customers can bring their cleaned growlers to ll. Owners Alicia and Jared Wennstrom said the brewery will have a taproom and a covered patio with live music. 512-337-5007. www.humblepint.com

3 P. Terry’s Burger Stand in mid-April opened its newest location at 12901 N. I-35, Austin, at Tech Ridge. This location oers drive-thru and delivery only. P. Terry’s makes 100% Black Angus beef burgers and also sells chicken, veggie burgers, fries and milkshakes. 512-531-9683. www.pterrys.com 4 India Gate on April 27 opened its restaurant at 12636 Research Blvd., Ste. A110, Austin. The restaurant, current- ly open for curbside takeout and delivery service, sells authentic Indian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including biryani dishes, vegetarian options, breads 5 Ashes the Cigar Lounge celebrated its soft opening May 11 with limited in-store retail capacity and curbside shopping service, owner Yonneque Zeno said. The African American- and female-owned business, located at 16009 FM 1325, Ste. 201, Austin, will sell cigars and accessories in a lounge atmosphere. Zeno said her store will cater to female cigar hobbyists and feature a welcoming cigar lounge atmosphere. 737-202-4340. www.ashesthecigarlounge.com and more. 512-335-8888. www.indiagateaustin.com

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Hawaiian Bros. Island Grill

IAIN OLDMANCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

COMPILED BY IAIN OLDMAN

LOCAL HOT SPOT

The Domain and Domain Northside

safe interactions between customers and store associates, according to a news release from the company.

In the days following Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement that selected retail and dining establishments could open with limited capacity, North Austin developments The Domain and Domain Northside both announced businesses would reopen. Simon Property Group, which manages The Domain, announced a string of busi- ness opening May 1. An analysis done May 13 by Community Impact Newspaper found 57% of restaurants and retail stores in The Domain have opened since the beginning of May. Dining establishments and storefronts in Domain Northside began opening with limited capacity the weekend of May 5. An analysis by Community Impact Newspaper found 32% of businesses in Domain Northside have opened since that time. Several restaurants within the Domain Northside continue to oer curbside pickup and delivery options. International suit retailer Suitsupply, located in Domain Northside at 11701 Domain Blvd., Ste. C9 138, adjust- ed its in-store operations and installed free-standing partitions that allow for

The Domain Domain Northside

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Suitsupply in Domain Northside installed safety measures in its store.

AMY DONOVAN PLAZA.

COURTESY SUITSUPPLY

FEATHERGRASS CT .

Many businesses in The Domain have reopened with limited capacity.

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

— KEEPING YOU — CONNECTED

To all the places you live, work, and play

Whether you drive, take the bus, bike, or walk, the Mobility Authority has a path for you. Our roadway network connects residents to everything they love about Central Texas. More reliable travel, for any way you travel.

www. MobilityAuthority .com

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES Light-rail line inNorthAustin added toProject Connect plan

COMPILED BY IAIN OLDMAN AND JACK FLAGLER

New improvement projects designed to increase mobility and pedestrian and cyclist safety will break ground the rst week of June. Both projects, located at the intersec- tion of West Braker Lane and Stonelake Boulevard and the intersection of North Lamar Boulevard and Payton Gin Road, will take approximately six months to complete, according to the Austin Transportation Department. These intersection improvements, totaling a combined $2.45 million, are funded as part of the city of Austin’s 2016 Mobility Bond. Work at the intersection of North Lamar and Payton Gin, located approximately 1 mile north of the North Lamar Transit Center, will substantially change side- walks and crossing paths for pedestri- ans and cyclists. “This intersection particularly has a record of a lot of pedestrian crashes, including fatalities,” said Amica Bose, project leader for the Austin Transpor- tation Department. High-visibility crosswalks with re- ective striping will be added at this intersection across each roadway. Improvements at the intersection of West Braker and Stonelake in North Austin will widen a shared-use path along West Braker, and existing bicy- cle-only lanes will be merged onto the shared-use path. Mobilityupgrades coming to twoNorth Austin intersections

In March, Capital Metro sta presented its $9.6 billion Project Connect plan to revamp Austin’s public transportation network to Austin City Council and the public transit agency’s board of directors. The plan would add two light-rail lines connecting downtown to the Aus- tin-Bergstrom International Airport and areas of North Austin and South Austin, among other expansions. Capital Metro President and CEO Randy Clarke and Assistant City Manager Gina Fiandaca said in a May 6 memo to City Council and the transit agency’s board of directors that Capital Metro sta light-rail line, which would run between downtown and the Austin Community College Highland Campus, passing by St. David’s Medical Center, the east side of the University of Texas campus and the Texas Capitol. Capital Metro calls this 6-mile route the Gold Line. It was included in Capital Metro’s March presentation to city council and the board, but initially, sta envisioned it as a bus line in a dedicated lane. have tweaked that initial plan. The plan now includes a third In the memo, Clarke and Fiandaca said the adjustment was made due to new population projections along the Gold Line corridor. Capital Metro sta also adjusted plans along the existing commuter rail line, the Red Line, which runs between Lean- der and downtown Austin. According to the memo, $380 million of planned work was scrapped because it did not lead to enough additional ridership to justify the cost over 30 years.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY LDEN OPP Capital Metro added a new light- rail line—the Gold Line—to its Project Connect plans. The new light-rail line is represented on this map as a dashed line. LEGEND Orange Line* Blue Line** Gold Line

Work continues at US 183 and I35 in North Austin.

LATEST UPDATES

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I-35 yover construction TxDOT crews in April set 72 support beams and poured ve deck spans for three yovers. Work continues on the new yovers and the U-turn on St. Johns Avenue bridge throughout May and June. Timeline: January 2018-mid-2021

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ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF MAY 13. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT NWANEWSCOMMUNITYIMPACT.COM. Parmer Lane diverging diamond Crews completed widening of lanes along the westbound Parmer Lane bridge. In May, similar work began along the eastbound Parmer bridge. New bridge beams were installed in late May. Timeline: July 2019-mid-2021

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*CONTINUES NORTH TO PARMER LANE AND SOUTH TO W. SLAUGHTER LANE **CONTINUES EAST TO AUSTINBERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Improvements at North Austin intersections begin in June.

SOURCE: CAPITAL METRO COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

NORTHWEST AUSTIN’S OFFICE MARKET BY THE NUMBERS A new report states the Northwest Austin commercial oce market may be well-suited to weather the storm created by the coronavirus pandemic, but it also cautions that it may be too early to forecast success. Here is a snapshot of the current oce real estate market in Northwest Austin.

3.51 MILLION square feet of commercial real estate under construction 8.9%

$43.40 PER SQUARE FOOT on average for Class A & B oce space VACANCYRATE for commercial oce space

That is an increase of $1.99 PER SQUARE FOOT since this time last year

SOURCE: AQUILA COMMERCIALCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Cranes remain in operation at commercial construction sites across Northwest Austin, such as these cranes at The Domain. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

ACTIVE

DEVELOPMENT Report: ‘Too early to tell’ whether commercial real estatewill suer

CONSTRUCTION ZONE

Developments in Northwest Austin continue to add commercial space as construction remained an essential business through much of the pandemic. About 11 million square feet of oce developments are either under construction or planned in Northwest Austin.

Currently under construction Planned for construction

Riata Crossing 6 Aspen Lake Three Domain Tower 2 Apple campus 7700 Parmer additions 9500 Parmer Lane Arena Tower Broadmoor Redevelopment Domain Tower 3 Domain Tower 4 Domain 9 Four Points Centre IV Research Park Building 6 Riata Corporate Park Building 1 Travesia Corporate Park Building 4

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commercial space is under construc- tion in Northwest Austin. Three new projects—Domain 10 and 12 in North Austin and Paloma Ridge in Northwest Austin—delivered more than 775,000 square feet of commercial space in the rst quarter of 2020. Both Domain 10 and 12, however, are completely preleased, mostly by single tenants—Amazon and Facebook, respectively—accord- ing to the Aquila report. The new building at Paloma Ridge is already 51.7% leased, the Aquila report states. “Historically, the Northwest Austin submarket has been very attractive to larger corporate users,” Aquila principal Ben Tolson said. While it is still too early to forecast the true eect of the coronavirus pandemic on the area’s commercial real estate market, Tolson added the Northwest Austin market has a few advantages moving forward under current conditions. For one, Tolson said he believes social distancing guidelines will likely force developers and large companies to reconsider oce layouts. “Fundamentally, the type of building that is in vogue will change. ... A lot of people realized they like a mid-rise environment,” Tolson said. Developments such as Mueller and Plaza Saltillo in East Austin are enjoying sustained success and will

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Across Austin, several of the city’s most iconic restaurants and businesses are closing due to the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, for the rst time in months, oces are allowed to slowly allow employees to come back to work. A new market report from Aus- tin-based Aquila Commercial states the Northwest Austin commercial market may be better positioned to survive the pandemic than other sectors of the capital city. But the report also cautions that it is yet too early to determine the true outcome of the market after the coronavirus. “High density nodes such as the Domain and the [Central Business District] could very well suer as tenants look to expand or relocate to lower density, campus-type settings. It is too early to tell what the eect of the pandemic will do to shape tenant demand, but we do think it will be drastically reduced in the short term,” Aquila principal Bart Matheney wrote in the May 7 report. Developments such as The Domain and Domain Northside continue to add oce and commer- cial space for tenants as construction has remained an essential business through much of the pandemic. According to the report, approxi- mately 3.51 million square feet of

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likely continue to do so, Tolson said, as they oer mid-rise oce spaces. As companies build up in high-den- sity environments, he added, they have to consider things such as increasing land prices, employee parking and moving employees around the building. Looking forward, four commercial developments are under construction in the Northwest Austin market, including Apple’s new 3 million- square-foot campus at 6900 W.

Parmer Lane. An additional 11 projects are planned for construction in North- west Austin, according to the Aquila report, including a handful inside or adjacent to The Domain and Domain Northside. In all, these 11 planned developments will add as much as 7.8 million square feet of space. The Broadmoor campus redevel- opment, one of the 11 projects, will deliver 4.9 million square feet of mixed-use space.

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

EDUCATION BRIEFS

News from Austin Community College & Pugerville and Austin ISDs

Principals picked for newschools PFLUGERVILLE ISD District o- cials announced May 1 that principals have been appointed to posts at BY IAIN OLDMAN

$17Mproject at Hill Elementary nowunderway

BY IAIN OLDMAN

Pugerville ISD’s upcoming middle school and elementary school. Those campuses, to be named at a later date, are being built concurrently on a combined site o Weiss Lane in eastern Pugerville and will be open to students in fall 2021, the district said in a news release. The district announced Reese Weirich, the current principal of Murchison Elementary School, will take over leadership at the new elementary school. Weirich has served as principal at Murchison Elementary since 2011, according to the district, and worked as an assistant principal at the same

AUSTIN ISD Because of social distancing guidelines mandated due to the coronavirus, the May 1 groundbreaking ceremony for modernization improvements at Hill Elementary School in North- west Austin was held virtually over a Zoom conference. This construction is funded by the 2017 AISD bond program, which included more than $17 million to add modernization improvements to Hill Elemen- tary. According to district bond documents, those improvements include provisions to address

ReeseWeirich

Jorge Franco

Modernization improvements at Hill Elementary School broke groundMay 1. (Community Impact Newspaper sta)

campus four years prior to that. Jorge Franco, the current principal of Westview Middle School, will be the rst principal at the upcoming PfISD middle school. Franco spent four years as a middle school teacher before moving to his position at Westview Middle, where he has spent the last two years, PfISD stated in the news release. Round Rock ISD board of trustees Meets third Thursday at 7 p.m. 300 Lake Creek Drive, Round Rock 512-464-5000 www.roundrockisd.org Pugerville ISD board of trustees Meets third Thursday at 7 p.m. 1401 W. Pecan St., Pugerville 512-594-0000 www.pugervilleisd.net Austin ISD board of trustees Board information sessions: second Monday at 6 p.m.; voting meetings: fourth Monday at 7 p.m. 4000 S. I-35, Austin www.austinisd.org Austin Community College board of trustees Meets rst Monday at 5 p.m. 5930 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin 512-223-7613 • www.austincc.edu *All meetings listed above are currently being held virtually only. To access these meetings, please visit the listed websites. MEETINGSWE COVER

overcrowding and future growth as well as upgrades to school infrastructure to comply with districtwide specications. To meet those goals, con- struction at Hill Elementary will ultimately add classroom space, additional on-site parking and technology space, and equipment improvements.

Trustees vote to keep tuition stable for next year AUSTINCOMMUNITYCOLLEGE Students attending classes at Austin Community College during semesters in the 2020-21 school year will not see a change in tuition and fees compared to this year’s prices. The ACC board of trustees approved a measure May 4 to maintain the current tuition and fee rates for the coming school year. students is $85 per credit hour, according to ACC, while Texas out- of-district tuition is $361 per credit hour. Out-of-state students pay $434 per credit hour. BY NICHOLAS CICALE in 2008, an economic downturn that helped lead to a 10% decrease in state appropriations or funding to the district at the time. $85

According to the presentation, the district had initially anticipated it would have a balanced budget for FY 2020-21, with $406,848,760 in revenue and expenditures. With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, the district projects it could be facing the prospect of a $4.49 million decit or worse during the coming year. The projected decit is based partly on funding changes the college dis- trict experienced during the recession

Tuition will remain the same price in the 202021 school year at Austin Community College as it was this past year. Per credit hour for in-district students Per credit hour for out-of-district students Per credit hour for out-of-state students SOURCE: AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER $434 $361

The vote came during a preliminary presentation to the board about the under-development scal year 2020-21 budget and possible impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Current tuition for in-district

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

CITY& COUNTY

News from Austin & Travis and Williamson counties

Biscoe sworn in as interim judge

County small-business grant program pays out more than $7.5M in first week

BY OLIVIA ALDRIDGE

TRAVIS COUNTY Judge Sam Biscoe took his oath of oce May 12 following a meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, ocially replacing Sara Eckhardt on an interim basis. Eckhardt submitted her resigna- tion to the court March 10 with plans to run for state Sen. Kirk Watson’s vacated seat in the Texas Senate. Biscoe, who served as Travis County judge from 1998-2014, was tapped as Eckhardt’s interim replacement shortly after her resignation, but his swearing-in was postponed due to developments with the coronavirus and the related postponement of the special election for Watson’s seat. May 12 was the new ling deadline for the election, rescheduled for July 14. Eckhardt, who has served in Travis County government for 20 years,

small businesses a top priority. The fact that we have been able to pro- vide funding to over 570 businesses in less than a week is a testament to the dedication of the Williamson County team in supporting our small business community,” Williamson County Treasurer Scott Heselmeyer said in the release. Wilco Forward is funded through the roughly $93 million the county received from the federal coronavi- rus relief package. The Commission- ers Court allocated $25 million for the program. Wilco Forward is accepting applications through June 30 and distributing money on a rst-come, rst-served basis. 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 512-854-9020 www.traviscountytx.gov Williamson County Commissioners Court meets Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. at the Williamson County Courthouse, 710 Main St., Georgetown 512-943-1100 www.wilco.org *All meetings listed above are currently being held virtually only. To access these meetings, please visit the listed websites. MEETINGSWE COVER

BY ALI LINAN

WILLIAMSON COUNTY More than $7.5 million in grants was distributed to Williamson County small businesses, according to a May 14 news release. The Wilco Forward grant program, launched May 6, oers nancial aid to local businesses that are dealing with hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic. Requirements include that busi- nesses must have opened by Feb. 15 and must have fewer than 100 employees. The maximum grant total is $30,000. As of May 14, the county has received 2,673 applications and provided funding to 573 busi- nesses, the release said. “In Williamson County, we have made the survival of our

County Judge Sam Biscoe is sworn in May 12. (Courtesy Travis County)

presided over her last meeting just prior to Biscoe’s swearing-in. “Travis County government has been my home for 20 years and I will cherish every moment I spent here,” Eckhardt said in a news release. Eckhardt was appointed as an emergency management adviser to Biscoe so that she may continue oering support on coronavirus-re- lated matters.

Ocials givemore than $1M in rent relief

RENT TROUBLE A city program to help families cover rent payments was only able to help a fraction of applicants.

only a fraction of the residents who applied through the lottery system. According to Austin data, the city received 10,738 applications between May 4 and 6. Only 5,552 applications qualied, representing 12,723 residents. The requested help from eligible applications totaled $6.9 million, according to numbers provided by the city’s housing department. Among other requirements, qualify- ing applicants had to be Austinites who faced job loss or pay reduction due to COVID-19.

BY CHRISTOPHER NEELY

AUSTIN More than $1 million was sent to landlords across Austin on May 15, covering the rent payments for 1,000 families experiencing economic consequences from the coronavirus. The money marks the rst of what city ocials foresee as several expenditures aimed specically at covering rent payments for vulnerable residents through the pandemic. However, the 1,000 families who received help through the city’s new Relief of Emergency Needs for Ten- ants, or RENT, program represent

$1.2 million paid to landlords

This covered rent for 1,000 families . 5,552 applications qualied for assistance. The average request was for $1,185 .

SOURCE: CITY OF AUSTIN COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BUSINESS&DINING INNOVATIONS

TsoChineseDeliveryprojects to feed 1,000 teachers throughMay

Pinballz tilts businessmodel; begins renting its arcade games

F ollowing a food donation campaign in April that saw his restaurant distribute more than $45,000 of free meals to local residents in need, Min Choe, the co-founder and CEO of Tso Chinese Delivery, said the restaurant was looking to pivot eorts to continue serving communities in need. With schools statewide closing campuses due to the coronavirus pandemic, Choe said he and his wife have been forced to partially home-school their children. All of the founding partners of Tso Chinese have elementary school- aged children, Choe said, and the closures have been an eye-opening experience for the restaurateurs. “As a result of this pandemic and our need to home-school children, we realized—now more than ever before—that we really do appreciate how much work and time our teachers spend with our children,” Choe said. Throughout May, Tso Chinese aimed to provide $50 in free food from its restaurants to a total of 1,000 Austin-area teachers through an initiative called 50KForTeachers. Tso Chinese will continue with charitable meal donations after May concludes through its TsoGiving campaign. According to the com- pany, the community has already donated more than $25,000 to the restaurant’s charitable arm. Tso Chinese is now looking into ways to help Austin’s homeless community by providing meals, Choe said, and is also working to help BY IAIN OLDMAN

A fter Pinballz Arcade in March was forced to temporarily close its locations in Austin and Buda, the team at the local arcade chain began to oat some ideas on how to keep a revenue stream coming in to keep employees on the payroll, Pinballz Marketing Manager Deb Lovett said. Soon, Pinballz staers thought of opening its game rentals to the general public under stay-at-home orders. Previously reserved for corporate events and conferences, Pinballz in early April began oer- ing weeklong rentals of its arcade cabinets and pinball machines. “It was like the perfect product hit the perfect moment in time,” Lovett said. Pinballz has already sent out machines for rent, Lovett said, and continues to oer four-week BY IAIN OLDMAN

Tso Chinese Delivery 9333 Research Blvd. Bldg. E, Ste. 402, Austin 512-774-4876 www.tsodelivery.com to provide meals during the day. “For every $1 we receive, we’re distributing $3 worth of food,” Choe said. “We’re in a fortuitous position to feed people a lot of food.” provide meals to Austin families with children who may depend on schools

Pinballz Arcade A 8940 Research Blvd., Austin 512-420-8458 B 13729 Research Blvd., Austin 512-537-8737 www.pinballzarcade.com Every transaction is contactless, Lovett said, and each machine is cleaned, sanitized and handled by workers wearing protective gear. discounts for avid gamers under Travis County’s stay-at-home order. The Pinballz Lake Creek loca- tion in May reopened its bar and restaurant areas to the public. The Original Pinballz Arcade in North Austin is closed, but customers may still rent machines. Lovett said the cost per machine starts at $200 per week, and the company makes sure every machine sent out is sanitized and in top working condition.

$ TSOGIVING: BY THE NUMBERS Tso Chinese Delivery’s charitable arm, TsoGiving, has provided thousands of meals to Austin families since the coronavirus pandemic hit Austin.

$

TsoGiving has donated worth of food to those impacted by COVID-19 . $45,000

$

The restaurant sought to provide $50 in meals to 1,000 local teachers in May.

$

NEWSERVICES AT PINBALLZ Pinballz Arcade began oering new services in the wake of having to close its arcades to customers in March.

The Austin community has donated $25,000 to TsoGiving. 100%

$

GAME RENTAL

GROCERY SERVICE

Customers can now rent full arcade game cabinets to play at home, beginning at $200 per week.

Pinballz launched a grocery pickup service that sells essential kitchen ingredients, paper products and meal kits.

$

of those proceeds go to charity .

SOURCE: TSO CHINESE DELIVERY COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

SOURCE: PINBALLZ ARCADECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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NORTHWEST AUSTIN EDITION • MAY 2020

While the gym previously would have up to 40 people working out at a time before the pandemic started, San- quilly said the gym was seeing ve to 10 people inside together. “The people who did come in were very respectful, very happy to get back in here and do something,” San- quilly said. Restaurants open for table service Just before noon on May 2, a lone customer wearing a protective face mask walked into Emerald Tavern Games and Cafe in North Austin, ordered a beer at the bar and sat down at a table to drink it. That customer, owner Erich Weidner said, was the rst to be served food or drink inside his restaurant since March 17. Emerald Tavern—which operates as a restaurant, cafe, bar and gaming store—returned with a soft opening May 1. Weidner said it was an easy decision, as his business needs a life- line and will take any chance to bring in revenue. While Emerald Tavern continued curbside pickup service for its food oerings throughout the state-mandated closures, Weidner said he collected the same amount of revenue throughout April that he col- lected in just four days in February. Sales are beginning to pick back up, Weidner said—through mid-May, Emerald Tavern’s monthly revenues had already outpaced what it made in April—but receipts are still a fraction of what they once were. “To put it in perspective, Saturday is typically our busiest and highest revenue day. Our best Saturday of [May] is half of what we used to do on a Monday,” Weidner said. “No busi- ness is going to be successful operat- ing at 25%-50% capacity.” While Emerald Tavern has been

reopening and what they’re going to entail,” she said. Even with so much riding on new income coming in, Ma is taking a cautious approach to reopening. He installed new shields on all the mani- cure tables ahead of the opening, and when Lavish opened May 8, custom- ers were no longer able to get a man- icure and pedicure at the same time. Instead, they now have to wait to get the services separately. Because of the limited appoint- ments and hours—as well as some hesitation on the employees’ part in returning—only about half of the tech- nicians will be coming back at Lavish, Ma said. “We’re not going to be fully staed. It’s tough, but we have to get back,” Ma said. Gymowners work out safe strategies Gym One in North Austin opened its doors May 18, the rst day permis- sible by state law. Ahead of the open- ing, the locally owned gym added a page to its website outlining its new rules to access the gym during the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to coming in to work out, Gym One manager Nick Sanquilly said members must submit to a fever read- ing from a temperature gun and sani- tize their hands. Everyone inside the gym is also asked to wear a mask. Sanquilly said the gym has closed o certain sections from use, includ- ing the gym’s lockers, showers and cardio equipment, such as treadmills. “Wearing a mask is not conducive for cardio anyways,” Sanquilly said. On its rst day open in two months, Sanquilly told Community Impact Newspaper that fewer people were working out in the gym than what Gym One’s 25% capacity allowed.

CONTINUED FROM 1

leading up to the announcement, gyms and oces across Austin had prepared to open May 18 following the governor’s allowance to do so the week prior. Butwhereas the rst phase of Texas’ plan permitted the public to interact with businesses at a trickle, the sec- ond phase of Abbott’s reopening plan will open the oodgates. Most busi- nesses—bars, bowling alleys, rodeos, bingo halls, zoos, aquariums, day camps and more—will be permitted to open by the end of May. Business owners attempt to cut risk On May 8, barbershops and salons across Texas were allowed to open to the public, provided they could ensure at least 6 feet of social dis- tancing between workstations. Some barbershop and salon own- ers made the decision to open May 8, including Scott Ma, who owns the Lavish Nails and Spa location near the intersection of Loop 360 and RM 2222. Others, such as Reunion Barbershop owner Ashley “Ace” Gibbs, are going to take a little more time—she plans to open June 1. Gibbs said she was “anxious” when she sat down to watch the governor’s May 5 press conference. She has Type 1 diabetes, so if she were to con- tract the coronavirus, it would be harder for her to recover than a person without underlying health conditions. When she reopens Reunion Barber- shop, appointment slots will be longer to allow for extra sanitation proce- dures, so she will be seeing fewer cus- tomers at her shop. “I feel like the beginning of June is safest; it gives me time to kind of see the scientic data behind the

TEXAS REOPENS: R : As part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen the Texas economy, many businesses—including bars and youth camps—can resume operations by the end of May. Here is a timeline of how local and state ocials responded to the coronavirus in Texas. a brief history MARCH 13

Abbott declares a state of disaster in Texas.

MARCH 15

Travis County reports its rst two cases of coronavirus. The rst cases in Williamson County come four days later.

MARCH 17

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and Austin Mayor Steve Adler order all restaurants to shutter dine-in services.

MARCH 24

Austin and Travis County announce shelter-in-place orders.

APRIL 17

Abbott announces a plan to reopen the Texas economy.

May 1

April 27 announcement from Abbott stated retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters and malls could to operate with limited occupancy starting May 1.

MAY 8

Gov. Greg Abbott announced that sectors of the Texas economy may reopen by the end of May. Here is a breakdown of what can open and when, and what the rules are. For more, visit http://gov.texas.gov/opentexas.

Texas reports 1,000 dead from coronavirus statewide.

WHAT IS THE PLAN?

MAY 18

Abbott announces Phase 2 to reopen Texas economy, which includes new capacity allowances for some businesses.

Bars, Breweries & Wine Rooms

BARBERSHOPS AND SALONS

Movie theaters

Open: Yes When?: Beginning May 1 , these were permitted to open with 25% capacity.

Open: Yes When?: On May 8 , these were permitted to open.

Open: Yes When?: Beginning May 22 , these were allowed to open with 25% capacity.

May 08

May 01

May 22

MAY 31

SOURCES: CITY OF AUSTIN, OFFICE OF GOV. GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER provided no spectators are physically present at games. Summer camps and programs such as little league are permitted to resume. Professional sports may resume,

BOWLING ALLEYS, BINGO HALLS & SKATING RINKS

Restaurants

GYMS

Open: Yes When?: Dine-in services began May 1 and expanded to 50% capacity May 22 .

Open: Yes When?: Beginning May 18 , these were permitted to open with 25% capacity.

Open: Yes When?: Beginning May 22 , these were permitted to open with 25% capacity.

May 01

May 18

May 22

SOURCES: OFFICE OF GOV. GREG ABBOTTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

18

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