What do you call the part of downtown Austin northwest of the Capitol? No, I don’t mean Judge’s Hill, a neighborhood located further to the west than this area according to its self-defined boundaries — we’re talking about the region roughly bound by West 12th Street to the south, Rio Grande Street to the west, MLK Jr. Boulevard to the north, and Lavaca or perhaps Colorado Street to the east — though you could potentially make an argument for extending the eastern boundary of the district all the way to the west side of Congress Avenue north of the Capitol.
We’ve tried to vaguely define this neighborhood on the map below, though its exact boundaries are up for debate:
There are a few potential names kicking around, though none of them are particularly interesting. Google Maps helpfully calls this part of town “North Side,” though it defines the boundaries a little differently as you can see on the embedded map below — but even without considering Google’s long history of essentially making up a lot of those neighborhood names to the chagrin of actual residents, I’m loathe to let any faceless tech juggernaut tell me what to call anything.
I’ve seen “Uptown” thrown around as well, but that’s also a pretty bad name — how can Uptown be inside Downtown? There’s even an office project called 410 Uptown planned in this area, and though it pains me to admit it, there actually is some historical precedence for the name — back in the early 1900s, a business called Uptown Drug Store operated in the heart of this area at 1612 Lavaca Street, where you’ll now find Sushi Junai. That gives us a thin but plausible argument for people perhaps calling this area Uptown at one point, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
You’ll notice bus stops in this area use the name “Museum District,” which is a little better, but that would mean we’re letting the Bob Bullock and Blanton Museums located at the far northeast corner of this area define the entire thing, which doesn’t make a ton of sense. I’ve also heard “Northwest District,” “North End,” “West Capitol,” and many other permutations of “North” and “Northwest” from various sources, though none of them seemed particularly sure of themselves.
Why does it matter, you might ask? Even without a great name, this quadrant of downtown has a lot of promising development in the cards, including the aforementioned 410 Uptown office project, Travis County’s new civil and family courts facility, a hotel development we believe will soon be officially revealed as a Hilton Garden Inn, and an unexpected 27-story condo tower project by New York development outfit Reger Holdings — and we have reason to believe even more projects are on the way. (The nearby Capitol Complex project by the Texas Facilities Commission certainly won’t hurt either, even though it’s east of here.)
Though its character is mostly commercial, this part of town should still be treated as a neighborhood in its own right — its many single-family homes now almost all contain law offices and other businesses, but there’s also a notable multifamily presence with condos and apartments alike. Cambridge Tower, Greenwood Towers, the Penthouse Condos and student-oriented complex The G are the biggest players in this region, with roughly 450 apartment and condo units between them.
That’s units, not bedrooms, so together with a couple of smaller apartment complexes and rental properties in the area, we can assume this district contains at least 1,000 residents — and probably more than that depending on where exactly you draw its boundaries. That’s before Reger Holdings’ upcoming condo tower brings more than 100 additional units to market at 1615 Guadalupe Street, smack in the heart of our growing unnamed neighborhood.
If we don’t step up now, you know who’s gonna get to name this district? Some intrepid marketer for a future real estate development, who will inevitably come up with a jackass name like NorWeCa — short for “Northwest Capitol,” obviously — and we’re all gonna feel bad about it when it sticks. Here’s your chance to stop that nonsense before it starts. Please tell us what you call this neighborhood, or just what you’d like for it to be called, and we can figure this thing out together as Austinites: