Our Sign is Back

sign arrivalWe are SO excited about the arrival of our iconic and much-loved sign at our 7th Street location today!

As the sign had been serving our downtown location for years, it needed a bit of sprucing up! We used the move east as an opportunity to freshen it up before bringing it over. So many of our customers have been asking about it; we were pleased to know everyone else loved it as much as we do and we’re so happy it’s back!

sign upIt’s busy both inside and outside today, but we are always glad to see you, so stop by soon to say check out the sign, get a cup of coffee or just say hi!

 

 

 

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Miller IDS’ Featured August Artist

Our August artist, Heidi Miller Lowell, is a long-time Austin resident. First teaching in our public schools, she then launched the town’s beloved Artery, which offers an art collective,  summer camp and and provides nursing home classes in art.

The Artery’s goal is “for each artist to come away from each lesson with a sense of joy and desire to create more art“. Heidi’s extensive reading of current brain research has informed the Artery’s teaching philosophy, believing that just as stress makes brain waves more active and agitated, art calms them. The school concentrates on product over process and goes out to many of the area’s elder care homes regularly.

Heidi feels art is an expression of being alive; its creation is an outlet for all the joy, hope, sadness and love in one’s heart. Though she has used multiple media, watercolors are her favorite medium at this time; watercolors require that you release some control, which she finds meditative. She paints whatever inspires her, often from nature. “Pelican”, featured here is a delicately beautiful rendering of the bird, whose meaning as a spirit animal connotes confidence and calm.

Printing this and other works at Miller IDS, Heidi enjoys coming in as she feels “everyone is so nice, down to earth and friendly – very Austin! – and Dana has been so helpful with my prints”. More of Heidi’s work may be enjoyed on the Artery’s website.

Fed Report says Austin business still strong and growing — but at a slower rate

austin-overtures-sightseeingFrom today’s Austin Business Journal:

In at least one key economic indicator, the stellar growth of Austin’s business scene is slowing down and has been for some time, according to data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas this month.

That indicator is the Business Cycle Index, a key metric followed by economists for its insight into broad economic trends at the national, state and local level. It looks most closely at changes in the local unemployment rate, nonagricultural employment, wages and retail sales. For the Austin area, the business-cycle index expanded at an adjusted rate of 7.1 percent in May. That’s far lower than the 10.7 percent business-cycle expansion seen in January 2015, the highest point of the index since the Austin region emerged from the Great Recession.

But a more troubling indicator is the fact that the business cycle index has dropped consistently since that point. At 7.1 percent, Austin is still above its average long-term growth rate of 6 percent. The last time Austin dipped below the long-term growth average was in 2007, as the Great Recession began to set in. By mid-2008, the slide had continued and Austin’s business-cycle index dropped into the negative — economic contraction — for more than a year. It wasn’t until late 2009 that Austin’s economy began to grow again, according to the index.

Other metrics from the same report show positive trends, but with some caveats. For instance, annualized job growth was 2.5 percent in May, well above the 0.4 percent job growth seen in Texas and the 0.3 percent job growth seen across the U.S. The largest share of that growth came in the trade, transportation and utilities industry, which makes up 17.5 percent of Austin’s employers. That industry grew by 6.5 percent in May. But manufacturing, which makes up 5.8 percent of Austin’s economy, saw employment shrink by 6.4 percent in May. Also of note: the leisure and hospitality industries saw employment shrink in Austin by 0.9 percent, a surprising contraction after that industry’s employment had been in expansion mode since January.

Meanwhile, year-over-year change in real wages paid increased 10.5 percent in Austin compared to 2.6 percent in Texas and 4.3 percent nationwide. Further, Austin’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 3 percent, compared to 4.4 percent in Texas and 4.7 percent in the U.S. Average hourly earnings in Austin rose to $26.55 per hour, more than a dollar above the national average and more than two dollars above the statewide average, which has been hurt by a sluggish oil and gas economy.

Additional information>>>

Massive surf park east of Austin hits legal snags over pool permit

surf park austinAn update from the Austin American-Statesman:

Travis County is on the verge of a court fight with a massive, unopened surf park over a disagreement about whether the park just east of Austin needs a swimming pool permit.

The Commissioners Court last week authorized lawyers to sue the operators of NLand Surf Park, saying the park is being built without conforming to county and state health and safety codes. The suit has not yet been filed.

“Such legal action is essential to protecting Travis County and its citizens,” County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said.

NLand Surf Park, which developers boast will be the first inland surfing facility of its kind in North America, is under construction near Texas 71, east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Contractors are building a lagoon the size of nine football fields that will include artificial waves for 11 surfing areas, according to NLand’s website.

The project is the brainchild of Doug Coors, a member of Colorado’s famous brewing family. Its opening date is unclear.

Attorneys for NLand and Travis County have been negotiating for months over whether the lagoon counts as a public swimming pool and, thus, requires a permit. NLand believes it does not, arguing that the rainwater-fed lagoon is more similar to a lake.

The park’s attorney, Richard Suttle, said the American-Statesman’s call was the first he had heard of Tuesday’s vote and said he was “completely blindsided” that the county would file a lawsuit before the park opened.

“This is a one-of-a-kind in the world (facility), and we are still working the logistics out on water quality,” he said.

State law defines a swimming pool as any “artificial body of water, including a spa, maintained expressly for public recreational purposes.” It requires pools to administer chlorine to keep bacteria from exceeding safe limits and meet other sanitary requirements.

NLand will treat its water with chlorine and has a water quality monitoring system to make sure the water is safe and does not exceed state bacterial standards, Suttle said. But the lagoon is too large to comply with other requirements of a pool, such as refiltering water every six hours, he said.

At least two wakeboardparks exist within Travis County, and neither has a pool permit from the city of Austin, which handles all pool permits in the city and unincorporated areas of the county. Suttle said he tried to raise that point with county officials.

“Their explanation to me was: ‘Just because someone else is speeding down I-35 and we don’t give them a ticket doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give you a ticket,’ ” he said.

Though NLand’s Facebook page continues to insist it will be open in “early summer,” Suttle said the park is months, not weeks, away from opening. A wastewater treatment plant built specifically for the site is set to be online in a few weeks, and that will make it possible to start bringing personnel to the site, he said.

The facility’s website shows job openings for a director of facilities, cafe cook, beer brewer, surf shop clerk, guest ambassador, cashier, bartender and dishwasher, as well as several surf coaches.

Travis County Commissioner Margaret Gómez, whose precinct includes the park site, declined to say what caused the move to legal action now. She called NLand an interesting project.

“They still have a lot of things to complete, but if they get it together and it’s well-run, kids love that stuff,” she said.

Full story>>>

Be a Tourist in Your Austin Hometown

klw-chess-03You don’t have to wait for visitors to be tourist here in Austin. We have loads of nature, food and downright wackiness that might be new to you, so put on some sunscreen and explore your city. The Downtown Austin Alliance has compiled nine itineraries to get you started including “Foodie Finds” and the “Shop ‘Till You Drop Weekend.” Bet you didn’t know you could play knee-high chess every Saturday afternoon at Wooldridge Square!

Rent is skyrocketing in the North Loop Neighborhood

burnetmarketplaceFrom Austin Business Journal

It’s no secret that rents are rising along with Austin’s economic prosperity. A report from Apartmentlist.com highlights where those rents are rising the fastest.

Median rent citywide in June was up 3.6 percent compared to the same month in 2015, at $1,200 per month for a one-bedroom unit. The jump was driven by increases in places such as the Zilker, North Burnet, Hancock, North Loop and West Campus neighborhoods.

The North Loop in particular stood out: median rent last month was $1,410, up a whopping 13 percent from June 2015. Go here to explore the data on your own, which was compiled by comparing listings on the company’s website.

North Austin has seen a lot of commercial and residential activity in recent years as a relatively affordable alternative to downtown for those living and working in the city center. The Burnet Road corridor, where rent increased 4.3 percent year over year in June, is one of the hottest development zones in the city.

Downtown remains the priciest neighborhood for renters, with a median monthly cost of $2,130 for a one-bedroom unit. Another horde of Luxury apartments continue to deliver in the urban core, especially in East Austin.

Miller IDS’ Featured July Artist

galveston 1965 adj clean_smallThis month, we’re happy to feature the work of Austin’s renowned artist, illustrator and underground cartoonist, Jim Franklin.

Born in Galveston, Jim studied at the San Francisco Art Institute and moved to New York before returning home to Texas. With other artists and musicians, he opened Austin’s iconic music hall, the Vulcan Gas Company. Gilbert Shelton created the venue’s first posters, then Jim took the job, drawing his first trademark armadillo, which soon evolved into the symbol and virtual folk hero of Texas hipsters. His art appeared regularly in Austin’s underground newspaper, The Rag and his own Armadillo Comics.

Ever creative, Jim is currently focusing on oil paintings, such as our featured “Galveston-1965” of a beach scene in his home town. This and more works may be seen on his website, http://jim-franklin-arts.myshopify.com/

Adding More Heart and Soul to Congress Avenue

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The Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) is leading the effort to transform Congress Avenue into a truly exceptional place – the greatest street in Austin and one of the great streets in the world. Following the Visioning the Avenue Workshop and Report in 2010, the DAA undertook a number of momentum projects to make positive, visible change on the Avenue. The following is a list of project accomplishments: Congress Avenue Banners, Old Bakery Park, Planters, Buses Moved to Guadalupe & Lavaca, Congress Avenue Tree Lighting, Retail Recruitment, Plaza Life, Sidewalk Vending, Holiday Tree at the Capitol and Bike Rack Sculptures. Read more about DAA’s exciting accomplishments and vision.

Marketers – We’ve got you covered!

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Did you know that we provide marketers with full service solutions? From print collateral to signage to event and trade show graphics, we can print directly on a wide variety of surfaces and that means your message will really “WOW” your audience. We offer high quality, quick turnaround, high volume capability. Read all about our marketing capabilities and let us make your message “POP”!

Real estate groups demand CodeNext process get back on track

codenext squareFrom yesterday’s Austin Business Journal

Eight organizations representing Austin real estate and business interests are demanding that the city get back on track with rewriting its land development code dubbed “CodeNext.”

Controversies about delays and budget overrides have surfaced in the past couple of months and one of the original members of the original Code Advisory Group — Melissa Neslund — resigned recently, citing her frustration with the process, which was supposed to be completed in September 2015.

The eight organizations, led by the Real Estate Council of Austin, held a press conference Wednesday urging the city to stop procrastinating and “re-litigating Imagine Austin,” said Cid Galindo, president of non-profit Evolve Austin Partners, in a statement.

Imagine Austin was the comprehensive plan adopted by the city in 2012, and CodeNext would codify the process for developers, businesses and residents to follow. But various outside interests have been calling into question issues that many thought were resolved with the adoption of Imagine Austin.

“It’s been four years since the roadmap for CodeNext was laid out in Imagine Austin, and we’re still without a draft of the code,” RECA President Ward Tisdale said in the statement. “Today the project is two years behind schedule, hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget and in jeopardy of collapsing under its own weight.”

Along with Evolve Austin Partners and RECA, the other organizations calling for immediate resolution to the delays and perceived interference are AURA, previously Austinites for Urban Rail Action, a grassroots organization; Austin Apartment Association; Austin Board of Realtors, Austin Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Austin Alliance and Home Builders Association of Greater Austin.

The real estate and business coalition said it expects to see a draft of the CodeNext no later than January 2017, supplemented by the following objectives — some that represent a radical shift from current regulations:

The code should include programs that incentivize the construction of below-market housing. Those programs need to be clear, effective, easily implemented and uniform throughout the city.

The code should provide options for missing mid-range and other more affordable housing options throughout the city with limited or no specific regulations as to quantity, density or lot and unit sizes.

The code should revise current concepts of compatibility to support denser options citywide.

The real life impacts from major code proposals should be measured using the Envision Tomorrow tool [a national and urban planning analysis program] and metrics-based planning tools. The impact of the proposed code must be analyzed before it is finalized.