Wooley Bully

john_wooley.jpgGentrification is a common watchword in East and South Austin these days, but what do you call it when rich people tear down their houses to make room for more rich people in West Austin? Whatever the name, John Wooley’s lakeside neighbors are not amused by his plans to raze his $3 million estate and rebuild condo units on the site. Quoth one neighbor:

“Everyone else in town would aspire to have a mansion on the lake, and here these guys are going the other direction,” said Flora Marvin, who bought a house across the street from Wooley in May.

This reminds me of the Sprint commercial, with Wooley playing The Man who happily sticks it to himself. Maybe this is a vengeful scheme to block the lake view of a Schlotzsky’s boardmember. Maybe there is some perverse nobility in ditching his Ponderosa. But certainly it’s highly profitable, and it’s gotta beat hocking fatty sandwiches for sheer entertainment value. Who wouldn’t enjoy the irony of watching the ‘burb crowd bitch about a new gated community?

For a guy who has made and lost more money than Texas spends on education (well, probably more than that), John Wooley has quite a running start on his next pile. In addition to bringing density to Lake Austin, he has plans brewing for property near Barton Springs Rd. as well. Wooley requested, but ultimately withdrew, a proposed re-zoning of several parcels up to Downtown Mixed Use (DMU). Since building 120 ft. towers along the South Bank raises project costs along with naturalist hackles, he may ultimately be happy putting six floor, mixed-use projects along Town Lake.

At that point disgruntled Westlake neighbors will be the least of his worries, because a long string of restaurants, ice cream parlors, and sport shops have withered on the cursed location at the West end of Barton Springs Rd. Maybe luxury condos are just what the restless spirits have been waiting for.

photo from QSR interview with John Wooley

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