UPDATE: Demolition of Graffiti Park unanimously approved by Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission

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Update 10:25 p.m.: The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously approved the demolition of the concrete walls and slabs at Graffiti Park with a vote of 8-0. The item provoked no discussion from the commissioners.

Original post: Tonight the Historic Landmark Commission will look to approve a demolition permit for the graffiti-covered concrete walls and slabs at 1012 Baylor Street, colloquially known as Graffiti Park.

The graffiti-smothered area, officially known as the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, opened in 2011 to muralists following a South-by-Southwest event. The concrete walls and slabs that evolved into a public canvas were leftovers from a failed multi-family development from the 1980s.

According to a press release sent out late last year, the HOPE Outdoor Gallery will move to 9507 Sherman Road, on Carson Creek Ranch in east Austin, close to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport—a considerable distance from its current central Austin location. The new location will provide more structure to the gallery and more space for artists and is expected to open by the end of 2018.

One of the concrete slabs from the old park will be moved the new location as a memorial.

Andrew Rice from the city’s Historic Preservation Office said he did not know a timeline for the demolition. However, Rice said that should the commission approve the demolition tonight, the permit would be released tomorrow, Jan. 30.

Although the property is not considered historic by city standards, the Historic Preservation office said that because of its value to the community, the site cannot be demolished without “comprehensive photo-documentation of the existing conditions,” for preservation at the Austin History Center.

The property’s owner, Mid-City Development, was not immediately available for comment. No plans for the old park have been released but Mid-City specializes in multi-family unit development.

Editor’s note: For a look at the top stories Community Impact Newspaper‘s Central Austin edition will be following in 2018, visit our guide. That and more content from our Annual Community Guide can be found here.


Editor’s note: After receiving an overwhelming amount of readers and discussion surrounding this story, we wrote the following blog post to help explain a bit of our process. One thing is for certain, local news matters. 

Blog: How I found a local story about a Graffiti Park in Austin that drove a statewide conversation and crashed the Community Impact Newspaper website

 

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COMMENT
      • Man I’m from here too but y’all sound salty as hell. It’s not Christopher’s fault that he didn’t grow up here… where he’s from doesn’t affect the writing.

        • He could’ve at least called it by its real name it’s been castle hill for over 3 decades but to an outtatowner “graffiti park” sounds better

          • Nature And Conflict

            The two people I know that live in the immediate vicinity – and have for 20 years – call it Graffiti Park and/or Graffiti Hill.

          • I moved to Austin 12 years ago (Clarksville) and it was called “the foundation” by anyone who’d been here even longer. I have some great memories from this spot! Really sad to see it go 🙁

    • Nature And Conflict

      So do you have issues with what he wrote or just the fact that he hasn’t lived here long enough?

      Austin is getting a reputation for being insular and unwelcoming.

    • Thanks for writing. Our reporting staff hails from myriad places throughout North America. Quite frankly, we like it that way. Being a New Jersey native gives Christopher Neely, our City Hall reporter, the ability to see things through a different lens and makes him fairly bulletproof against bias compared to an Austin native. We’re always happy to discuss any of our editorial decisions as we aim to build trust with our readers and maintain an open dialogue. Please reach out if you have any further questions.

      Best,

      JJ Velasquez
      Editor – Central Austin
      Community Impact Newspaper

    • It doesn’t matter where the writer is from. Your comment reflects poorly on the people who live here.

  1. Good job Austin! Always tearing down the little unique things in favor of condos and bland gentrification. Can’t wait to see the mix use condo with the starbucks that will make that area so much more singular than the rest of the town.

      • An Austin Landmark? Get real – it’s been there 6 years!! It’s moving to a new, safer, and larger location.

        I’ve lived down the block for a decade, and even the homeless folks who’ve lived here as long as I have don’t like it.

        • A new, safer, larger, smellier location. It is right in the middle of the sewage ponds, not many directions for fresh air to blow from. Not a place anyone is going to want to spend much time. On the flip side that land is so cheap they can really spread out.

        • It’s been there a lot longer than that. It used to be called The Foundation. The graffiti park was just a nifty way to use the plot, which is most notable for having a fantastic view of downtown. I used to take dates there when I lived nearby around the turn of the century. It’s a shame to see it gobbled up by yet another condo development for yuppies, although I guess Clarksville in general is probably a lot wealthier than when I lived there.

  2. Wasn’t the land owned by Dick Clark before he passed away? Thanks! Just keep moving the Real Austinites farther and farther from the city.

  3. It’s Not About Always You!
    And Think about the Bigger Picture from the Beginning before The Whites and India! Before being Mixed With Kings. It’s Art a Way Of life of the People and We the People!
    Don’t live the Lifestyle Of Dreams. And Let your kids grow and be a Outcast Of Dirty Money…
    P.S Thanks

  4. This is a blatant form of bureaucratic gentrification. As a local who has lived here my entire life, not very well published cized vote to demolish this area, this is shameful and in very poor taste. I’m incredibly disappointed.

  5. As a newcomer to Austin, I enjoy this local landmark as an exhibit of what makes Austin unique. Art is at the heart of this city and I don’t want to see it pushed to the fringes as a casualty of developmental “progress”. The new location lacks the proximity to downtown. And although it sounds as through increased space is the intended trade off, the context of art is important. What context does this location provide that creates a unique experience for an urban art form like graffiti? If we have board/committees making decisions like this, we need to ensure diversity and representation by those from the art community.

  6. I can’t help but feel sad about this. The new location sounds way too far from downtown. Street art should be in an urban area. I guess we will see how the street artists feel about it and if they support the new place :/

  7. I’m an old fart and conservative as hell and have lived in Austin since 1952 and even I agree that the Castle Hill murals should NOT be demolished. OH, wait! We’re governed by copy-caters that mimics everything that California, Oregon and Washington State do – got to have a high rise condo built there. A few years back the predecessors of today’s city government removed the statue of the Founder of Austin – Stephen Austin from its South Austin location as a slap in the face to us who live South of the River. If it hadn’t been a woman who saved the State Records from being removed from the Capitol back in the 1800s that bronze statue of her and her cannon would also be removed from its Congress Avenue location. Watch them remove the trees that line Congress Avenue downtown because a Republican Mayor had them planted there.

  8. Do you know when it is slated for demolition? I am not from Austin, but I had planned on taking senior portraits there of one of my daughter’s friends within the next month or two.

  9. If you want to make Austin Austin how about something being done with under the train track on Lamar just north of Lady Bird. It is ugly as can be with those blue sign things, needs weeding and power washed if not a new surface entirely. It is one of the gateways to the downtown of the music capital after all! Even graffiti would look better then it does now.

  10. Good solid story Chris. Sad to see this go, have some very fond memories here! Very interested in seeing the new location, and having another visit before its demolished.

  11. I have been here a bunch of times! I usually let my dog pose there for pictures. It is pathetic that the city wants to tear this down! Oh so, the property value is too high to let a little touristy place like this exist??? SHAME! Besides, its practically FLOOD PLAIN there! Let it be! Austin is about creativity and “weirdness”… This place is a landmark,, it is its own historical landmark! what was the commission thinking?! I would have protested if I had only known about this!

  12. I wonder if Historic Landmarks Commission should be reconsidered as a Community Value Landmarks Commission, since following standards of “historic”-ness set by the National Park Service (ie. must be at least 50 years old) does not seem to allow the commission to save places that are obviously meaningful to the city. Is there a proven set of community value standards that cities can use instead?

  13. As long as no expenditure is charged to our taxes, i have no objection to whatever is done with it.

    • So, your bottom line is: I don’t care what the government does to Austin as long as it doesn’t cost me a cent? Sad.

  14. I can’t believe it my kids absolutely love this place and the views are absolutely amazing I can’t imagine what we’re going to do without being able to visit graffiti Hill every time we come home! – does anyone know when the expected demolition is

  15. This is Castle Hill. That structure that looms behind looks like a castle. Get it?

    This should be preserved as a city park, with landscaped ramps that slope down to Baylor. Park Güell in Barcelona is a great precedent to consider. The community should really strive to preserve this great place so the public can continue to enjoy. I didn’t care much for the graffiti, but I’m glad so many people were able to enjoy this space.

    • That’s a great idea we should have something like Park Guell here, so inspirational and fun. Its too bad its privately owned property, it would be cool if the city could buy it and make it into a park. I like the idea of the artwork some of the artists were doing there but the problem was literally as soon as an artist finished a new piece someone would walk up and spray paint there initials there. It was like a lot of people went there just to say they sprayed something on the wall but didn’t care about the artwork

  16. Surety and Idolatry

    The city doesn’t own this. They don’t get a say. It’s private property.

    But what they could do is rescue all the existing concrete panels and relocate them to say Butler Shores (next to Zach Theater) or Guerrero Park. You’d still have great city views (maybe not quite as good but still really good), and in a city owned location with much better parking and access. The hike and bike trails go right by both of these locations.

    Or even somewhere in Zilker. Tons of space there.

    Then it wouldn’t be in the middle of a residential block. As it is now it truly sucks for the people in that block. Their cars get blocked in, their private offstreet spaces get taken, trash gets dumped in their yards, etc.

    Ideally it’d be neat for the developer there to incorporate some of the graffiti slabs into the design of the new condos. But sadly I fear they will be hideous ‘modern’ monstrosities with very little actual design interest.

  17. This is sad, BUT this is private property, not a city park. The land owner deserves the right to do with it what they want. My family loves going there, especially our ‘artist’ sons, but I stand behind the rights of private citizens even if it’s a company interested in profit. They should not have their land ‘held hostage’. If fact, I don’t see what right the anyone has to demand that – site cannot be demolished without “comprehensive photo-documentation of the existing conditions,”

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Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.
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