Thursday, February 28, 2013
All this month, we’re spotlighting the Stone Oak neighborhood of San Antonio Texas. This week, we’ll be sampling the dining and drinking options available in this luxurious part of town.
Looking for Thai? Thai Chili Cuisine has you covered! This unassuming restaurant tucked away in a strip mall has a lot of flavor hiding behind its doors. Customers keep coming back for the Pumpkin Curry, the Pad Thai and the lunch buffet. Be careful, though, Thai Chili isn’t afraid to use the chilis, and things can get a little hot. So if you’re sensitive to spice, be sure to keep that in mind when choosing your level on the spice scale.
If Indian food is more your speed, India Taj Palace’s lunch and dinner buffet, as well as full menu, will serve you well. Their desserts such as kheer will have you going back for seconds, and their saag paneer and samosas will delight your tastebuds.
If you’re looking for a great place to meet friends for a few pints, World of Beer boasts an impressive 50 taps and 550 bottled beers. So if you can’t find something you like here, it doesn’t exist! World of Beer also offers classes where you can sample brews and become an expert, as well as specials like Ladies Night on Thursdays, when Ladies can snag a $3 pint.
Wine more your poison? Copa Wine Bar is a great place to enjoy a glass or two of wine with your friends, a date or even by yourself if you want to make some new friends sitting at the bar! They also have a delicious, unique menu and a great outdoor patio for people watching and enjoying the beautiful Texas weather.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
This month we’re spotlighting Leander, Texas, a suburb of Austin, Texas. This week we’re going to be sharing all the great dining and entertainment options in this growing area, which saw it’s population nearly double just between 2000 and 2003!
If you when you think of dining options in the suburbs, you think of chains, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised when you get hungry in Leander. Lower land costs keep retail rents down, thereby allowing mom and pop restaurants to flourish.
Say you’re in the mood for Italian food. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with The Olive Garden, but wouldn't you rather go to Luigi’s Italian Restaurant? This family owned place is beloved for its homemade pizza, pasta and sauces, as well as excellent service. Keep in mind the dining room is very open, so it might be a better choice for a boisterous family get together than a romantic candlelight dinner.
Mexican more what your tastebuds are angling for? Is it late and your tummy’s rumbling after a fun night out? Sure you could drive through Taco Bell (on second thought, don’t), but why not check out Elotes Locos, an unassuming taco truck located in the HEB parking lot that is revered for its incredible Tacos al Pastor and low prices. Delicioso!
It may be beautiful weather outside right now, but it’s never too early to plan for the 10 months of the year that the mercury hits 100. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but just a slight one! Quarry Splash Pad is an unusual way to cool off in Leander. This city-owned water park is just $1 per person if you choose to enter the splash pad, but parents can just stay close by and relax while watching their little ones get wet in the fenced-in splash pad. A great way to beat the Texas heat!
While not technically in Leander, Cedar Park Center is less than 10 minutes away and is a great place to see touring concerts, the Texas Stars play Hockey or the Austin Toros play basketball.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Anderson Mill used to be its own city, but it was incorporated into Austin in 2008. Anderson Mill began as a master planned community in the late 1970's and popular for those looking for affordable rents, lots of local amenities and Round Rock ISD schools. Green space, parks, and hike and bike trails are all abundant in the area, but the close proximity of Highway 183, State Highway 45 and Mopac mean that residents can quickly get to work or shopping.
Rents in the area are very reasonable for Austin, ranging from $590 to $1400 per month, depending on size of the apartment and age of the complex. Most complexes in Anderson Mill have pools, community rooms and other amenities.
There are a wealth of unique, locally owned restaurants in the area, as well as the national chains that we're all used to. Family run Reale's Pizza and Cafe serves up pizza and pasta just like grandma made, if you had an Italian grandmother who was an amazing cook, that is. The atmosphere is casual and friendly and if you're lucky, you might just get entertainment in the form of a piano playing, singing Frank Sinatra wannabe.
If you're more in the mood for Asian, you're in luck. There are several Asian restaurants in the area from sushi at Osaka Mansun, which not only gets high marks for its sushi, but for its Japanese and Korean fare, to Thai at Spin Modern Thai, which gets raves for its unique spicy dishes at wallet-friendly prices.
Anderson Mill is also very close to Lakeline Mall, a shoppers paradise with all your favorite stores. There are venerable anchor stores like Dillard's and Macy's and younger upstarts like Torrid, which offers trendy fashion for the plus-size woman. You can also get your hair done (Visible Changes), your clothes altered, (ASAP Alterations), and a pretty candle to take home to Ma (Yankee Candle Company).
Tired from your day of eating and shopping and you just want to relax and watch a movie? Anderson Mill is great place for this too! There are several movie theatres in the area, from Alamo Lake Creek if you like your flicks with a beer, to Regal Lakeline Mall if you're looking for something more family friendly and convenient to the food court.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
This month, we will be spotlighting all Stone Oak, a master-planned, deed restricted, multi-use community located in the far North Central area of San Antonio, Texas has to offer. This luxurious suburb is located North of Loop 1604 and West of 281. Stone Oak, San Antonio is popular because of its gated apartment communities, 24 hour security and well-landscaped public areas.
Stone Oak, Texas is beloved by residents because of its many convenient large and small shopping centers which make sure residents can get whatever they need without leaving the cozy confines of Stone Oak. It is also attractive to potential residents because of its schools, abundance of parks and the Canyon Springs Golf Club. When it is time to commute to San Antonio, it’s an easy 30 minute drive away, so you can enjoy living away from the hustle and bustle of the city while still getting to work quickly.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
This month we are going to help you get better acquainted with a rapidly growing neighborhood just northwest of Austin called Leander, Texas. Leander is located about 30 minutes from downtown Austin off Hwy 183 just north of Cedar Park. The recently finished 183A Tollroad is a convenient way to get into Austin or out to the beautiful Hill Country by car, and for those who prefer to leave the driving to someone else, the MetroRail takes you right into downtown Austin while you relax with a cup of coffee and the paper!
Considered a very family-friendly area, Leander is popular for its Leander ISD schools, large number of parks, and close proximity to Lake Travis. Due to recent growth in what was historically a small town just north of Austin, apartments in Leander, Tx are more affordable, newer and with more amenities than comparable apartments in Austin. This makes them very appealing to those that don't mind a slighter longer commute into the center of Austin and those who may work for employers on the north end of Austin. For shopping, dining and entertainment, Leander’s proximity to Lakeline Mall offers lots to do for the entire family.
All this month you’ll learn about what Leander, Texas has to offer in terms of employers, schools, dining and entertainment!
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Finding out the owner of a leased apartment or other property is another process covered by the Texas Property Code. Austin Tenants Council walks through the steps required to find out the owner of a rental property and what remedies a tenant has if the landlord refuses to disclose that information.
The law states that landlords must give tenants the name and address of the owner(s) and the name and address of the management company if it is not on site. You can also discover the name and address of the owner using the tax appraisal records. Contact the tax appraisal office in the county where the property is located.
Landlords and managers are only required to respond to requests from tenants for the owner's information if the tenant is current on rent. It is best to make this request in writing whether the lease requires it or not because that way the tenant can easily prove they did request the information. Be sure to keep a copy for your records. The landlord has a week to give the information to the tenant after receipt of the request.
The landlord can give the information to the tenant in writing, by putting it up in an obvious place near the apartment or in or near the management office, in the tenant's lease, or in a list of rules and regulations.
If the landlord doesn't give the name and address after the first request, you can make a second request in writing, and mention that if the information isn't provided in seven additional days, the tenant will exercise their rights under the appropriate part of the Texas Property Code. This request should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, or hand delivered accompanied by a witness. On the eighth day after the request, if the information still has not been received, the tenant can proceed with further action.
That further action would be to get a court order forcing the landlord to reveal the owner's and/or the off-site management's name and address. The tenant also has the right to sue for the tenant's actual costs, a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $100, and court costs and attorney's fees. The other remedy is to terminate the lease without a court proceeding.
If the ownership or management information changes, the landlord is required to provide the new information by giving it to the tenants or posting in the apartment or in or near the management office. Another option is to change the lease agreement to reflect the new information and give a copy to the tenant. If they don't do either, the tenant is allowed to proceed as above.
Additional tenants of the law include that if the rent isn't paid in full when the owner information is requested, the landlord can use that in their defense. If the landlord purposely provides the wrong information, they give up that defense. If the tenant or the landlord sue the other party just to harrass them, they can be found responsible for one month's rent plus $100 and attorney's fees. Finally, any lease that purports to waive a tenant's right to this information is false, as that right cannot be given up.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Austin's Tech Scene has been steadily heating up over the years and our innovative technology companies are now something we're known for. Realty Austin gives us a lowdown on some of the hottest startups in the ATX right now.
uShip is a company founded by a UT grad that specializes in helping independent shippers find the best shipping rates for their customers. They use search and mobile apps to give customers the ability to ship large cargo and freight for bare bones prices. They are an international company with a European headquarters in the Netherlands, but their North American HQ is right here in downtown Austin.
You may have seen their little white Prius decorated to look like a mailbox zooming around town and wondered "what in the world is that?" That, my friends, is a revolution in dealing with snail mail created by Outbox. Outbox comes out to your mailbox, takes your mail, and swoops it back to their offices, where they open it, photograph it, and upload it for your perusal. You can then decide if there's anything you want physically, and act on the stuff you don't need a physical copy of. You can even unsubscribe from any mail you don't want to get anymore.
Austin is known as a fit city, and MapMyFitness is making staying in shape a little easier. This company owns three different apps that you can use for walking, biking, or running to create your own route, keep track of your progress, and share your route with other users. If you want to become a premium subscriber, you can even get recommended routes, training suggestions, and information on how you are faring physically.
HeyRide is a new alternative to taxis that allows drivers to offer rides for a fee to riders. Riders check out the site and see who is offering rides for their particular route, decide which one works the best for them, and then get hooked up with a driver to take them to their destination. Although the City of Austin brought legal action against HeyRide because they they see HeyRide as an unlicensed taxi company, the CEO still thinks the concept has legs.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Smoke detectors are required in all apartments and other rental units according to the Texas Property Code. The Austin Tenant's Council lays out the laws in Texas for how many detectors are required and remedies for getting them installed, repaired or replaced.
Landlords are required to install at least one smoke detector outside of every bedroom. If the bedrooms are all on the same hallway, they can elect to put just one smoke detector in the hallway so it is still in the immediate area of the bedrooms. If one or more bedrooms are on a level above the living and cooking area, the smoke detector for those bedrooms has to be put in the center of the ceiling right above the top of the stairwell. Efficiency units are required to have a single smoke detector.
If smoke detectors are not in place when a tenant moves in, they can ask the landlord for them, preferably in writing whether the lease stipulates the request must be written or not. The landlord is also required to inspect and test all the smoke detectors when the tenant moves in and after that when the tenant asks for an inspection or reports a malfunction. This is also best to put in writing, even if the lease doesn't say it has to be. However, if the smoke detector is damaged by the tenant or his guests, the landlord doesn't have to repair or replace the unit unless the tenant gives them the money for the repair or replacement before it is done.
If the landlord won't put in a smoke detector, or inspect or repair one, within a week of getting a written request, the tenant can take the landlord to court and/or terminate the lease and move out.
If a tenant doesn't replace the battery in a smoke detector, or intentionally disconnects or damages a smoke detector, they can be held responsible for any damages that result from the non-working smoke detector.
Other stipulations of the law include: the tenant must be current on rent before requesting installation, testing or repair of a smoke detector; if either party files suit in court just to "harass the other party", they can be fined a civil penalty of one month's rent plus $100, plus lawyer's fees and court costs; the tenant is unable to give up the right to a smoke detector, even in the lease; it is the tenant's job to replace batteries if the smoke detector was working when they moved in; and finally, if required by a hearing-impaired resident, the tenant can request a smoke detector that is capable of alerting a hearing-impaired person in the bedrooms it serves.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Whether you've lived in Austin all your life, or just moved here five minutes ago, John Spong's Texas Monthly's piece on Austin's growth is a must read. While essentially an opinion piece commenting on the oft-repeated refrain, "Austin was better when I moved here", it is also packed with history of what went into making Austin Austin, since way back when it was founded in the 1800's.
Republic of Texas' vice president Mirabeau B. Lamar moved the capital of Texas to Austin in 1839 because he was so inspired by the scenic surroudings of our fair city. It was the terrain of Austin that drove the city to become a hub for retail and commerce instead of a home for big farms, which attracted open-minded residents. These progressives led to Austin being one of the few areas of Texas that was against seceding from the Union in 1861. The opening of the University of Texas in 1883 made sure the city would be forever young with the influx of college students and the jobs at the University, as well as the thousands of jobs at the state Capitol, guaranteed that steady employment could always be had.
Due to these three factors, natural beauty, college students, and state employers, Austin has continued to grow in population at basically the same rate for the last seventeen straight decades. The building of the dams on Lake Travis in the 1950's and 1960's led to Austin being seen as a great place for tourists and locals alike to go and experience the outdoors. The infamous claim to being "Live Music Capital of the World" started with Willie Nelson's arrival in 1972 and led to an entire scene which birthed scores of popular acts ranging from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Spoon. The tech revolution first began in 1983 when computer company MCC moved here. Large scale philanthropy and high-end restaurants eventually grew out of the arrival of the techies.
Decisions made by city government also shaped the Austin we have today. In 1997, Mayor Kirk Watson, who is currently Austin's state senator, brokered peace between developers who wanted to build subdivisions to house the influx of people coming to Austin to work in the booming tech industry and environment-minded citizens who spoke in defense of the Edwards Aquifer. His solution was to stress that transplants were moving here because of Austin's beautiful scenery and that protecting that would make great financial sense. The powers that be starting pushing development in downtown, a wasteland of empty parking lots and abandoned car dealerships, and simultaneously used bonds to purchase 60,000 acres in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The result is that Barton Springs has maintained its pristine beauty and downtown has become a destination around the clock.
The "Keep Austin Weird" mantra grew out of a fight waged in 2002 by Waterloo Records and BookPeople to prevent a Borders Books and Music from moving in near their 6th and Lamar stores. The stores adopted the motto, printing it on bumper stickers, and they also paid for a study that showed that for every $100 spent in a chain store, only $13 remained locally, while for every $100 spent at a local business, $45 remained in the area. Borders stayed away (perhaps also influenced by the economic downturn), but the wisdom gleaned by the study continues to influence decisions made by both city hall and developers.
The Second Street District, the South Congress transformation to SoCo, and even Rainey Street all grew out of Watson's goal to push dense development in city centers. All three areas have remained largely homes for locally owned businesses. So while the closing of Les Amis and the Armadillo World Headquarters and Emo's move to East Riverside may still inspire bellyaching, Austin's culture depends on its ability to evolve. In other words, the more things change in Austin, the more they stay the same.