Austin Hipness Moves South

By: Ki Gray

For decades, bumper stickers have adorned cars all over central Austin, proudly proclaiming "78704 More Than just a Zip Code." The South Austin lifestyle originated there, but as Austin real estate prices rose, and fancy restaurants and shops re-energized South Congress, a migration of hip-ness began. Now, a new bumper sticker is gaining in popularity, reading "78745 the new 78704."

This is the perfect area for a young couple to start off. The area is roughly bordered by Westgate Blvd. to the west, Ben White to the north, Slaughter to the south, and Congress to the east, and has the feel of an established, homey neighborhood. Mature trees, fabulous mid-century ranch houses, great starter properties, winding streets with charming names like Jinx and Redd, and a casual but upwardly mobile vibe are hallmarks of the area.

The commercial center of the region is the Westgate Center, on Ben White, featuring the foodie mecca, Central Market. A wonderful store that highlights organics and international foods, Central Market also has a great cafe that features live music four days a week. For takeaway, they have, a Chef's case and salad bar, as well as prepared full-meals for two or four, sushi, sandwiches, and a soup bar. Their cooking school offers classes on topics such as grilling, dim sum, tapas, and many other creative subjects. They recently added a wine bar to emphasize their world-class wine section, and their on-site bakery is one of the few places in South Austin to get fresh, organic breads. Also located in the shopping center are Whole Earth Access, Beall's, Yoga Yoga, and the Westgate 11 Cinema, as well as many other boutiques and cafes.

Garrison Park is a large, well-appointed park smack dab in the middle of "the four-five." Their playground has two playscapes one geared towards toddlers, and one towards older kids, and they have swings for all sizes as well. With a toddler/wading pool in addition to a full size recreation and lap swimming pool, this is a popular destination in the summer. They have grill grates, picnic tables, a basketball court, and a decent sized parking lot, making this one of the cities finer parks.

While the quiet tree lined streets and bucolic feel are a big plus, one of the most attractive qualities of the 78745 neighborhood is its proximity to central Austin. Manchaca leads right to Lamar, with South First and South Congress being the other two main north/south arteries that lead straight to the heart of Austin's business center, and to the other vibrant neighborhood shops and restaurants. Ben White hooks right into Mopac and Loop 360, and I 35 is just a stone's throw.

This neighborhood has all the qualities that make Austin such a cool place to live. With a great range of housing options and prices, a settled, mature neighborhood feel, and a great array of businesses and restaurants in close proximity, this is an up-and-coming area waiting to be discovered.

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