Welcome to Slackerville, the South First Street enclave of quirky businesses, art studios and tiny homes first established in 1979, now destined to become a self-storage facility. You can blame rising property taxes, hungry real estate developers or the phases of the moon for its demise, but it doesn’t really matter — the deal is done, and demolition begins early next year.
At this point, the site is nearly a ghost town, with only a few residents and business owners holding on. Here are some photos of what’s left, in case someone from out of town asks what that whole “Keep Austin Weird” thing was all about.
I ran into Jack Donahue, owner of Audiotech Austin.
It’s one of the few companies in the area that repairs vintage tube amps and other audio equipment, and it’s also one of the last businesses still operating out of Slackerville. Jack lives on the property, along with a few remaining others.
Jack’s already found a place nearby to relocate his shop, but he’s worried about the more than 10 stray cats he takes care of. He assures me that he’s had them all fixed, and hopes they find him at his new place down the street.
“They’re nice to you when they’re hungry,” he says.
You can point the camera anywhere you want in Slackerville and find something interesting.
It’s also easy to find cats.
It feels like a time capsule for 1990s Austin, even though it’s largely vacant now.
One of the few remaining occupied homes on the site. I don’t know how the mail got delivered, but I’m jealous of whoever had the privilege to live here.
This is the Bottle House — part tiny cottage, part art installation, covered in bottles and mosaics and filled with intricately carved peanuts.
Jack’s not ready for the end of Slackerville. He shows me every inch of the place, mostly just to tell me what used to be there.
Thankfully, many of Slackerville’s businesses have found new locations to set up shop. But they won’t be together anymore, and this weird collective of artists, hippies and slackers will only be a memory for folks lucky enough to experience this slice of an older Austin.