Poised to become Austin's next "hot" neighborhood for the creative crowd, Southwood sits just south of the hipster haven that is 78704. Home to an eclectic mix of working-class families, young professionals and retirees, the neighborhood is made up of mostly modest houses built in the 1950s. A railroad track bisects the community, and while there's not exactly a "wrong side of the tracks," most of the houses on the west side are a little larger and more up-to-date than those on the east side. Well-tended lawns, gently rolling hills, sprawling old oaks and towering pecan trees add to the area's low-key, peaceful vibe.
In the evenings, the neighborhood comes alive with people walking dogs, gardening and chatting with neighbors.
The borders of the Southwood neighborhood are Ben White Boulevard/Highway 71 (north), West Stassney (south), Manchaca Boulevard (west) and South 1st Street (east).
St. Elmo Market
Less than a mile from Southwood's eastern border, a massive new public market, St. Elmo Market, is scheduled to begin construction in late 2016. The developer was inspired by Pike Place Market in Seattle. The centerpiece will be a massive old warehouse that was once home to a bus factory. The warehouse will be remodeled but not changed significantly. Most of the other buildings will be new. The anchor of the development will be the Saxon Pub, which plans to relocate its iconic bar from South Lamar.
A hotel and lofts will also be a part of the project. St. Elmo Market is currently seeking certain types of tenants, including music-based businesses, small technology firms and "makers" from a variety of disciplines.
Bus: The No. 10 bus stops at S. 1st and Orland and transports riders downtown in about 20 minutes. On the neighborhood's west side, the No. 3 picks up passengers near the corner of Manchaca and Jones, and typically arrives in downtown 30 minutes later.
Located along the southern border of the uber-cool 78704 zip code, Southwood may be a little less hip, but it's a lot more affordable. Houses in Southwood are sometimes $100,000 cheaper than comparable homes a few blocks away on the north side of Ben White. In April 2016, the median home price in Southwood was $250,000. Most of the houses originally had three bedrooms and one bathroom, with a one-car garage, and about 1,200 square feet of total space. However, many have been completely remodeled and expanded, and some have even been rebuilt entirely.
While the houses are small, some backyards sprawl across an acre or more of land. The neighborhood's central location allows downtown workers to avoid the always-congested I-35 entirely, and enjoy a low-stress, four-mile commute on South 1st Street.
Casa Maria is a laid-back Tex-Mex eatery with an on-site bakery and excellent breakfast tacos. For Chinese food, the family-run Bamboo Garden has maintained a loyal following in the neighborhood since 1976.
Walkers, runners and soccer players take over the jogging track and playground next to St. Elmo Elementary in the evenings and on weekends, though it's not officially a public park. On the neighborhood's south side, the Williamson Creek Greenbelt is a popular yet undeveloped hiking area. The only trail is the limestone bed of the creek, which is often dry between rains. At the entrance to the greenbelt, neighborhood volunteers have added a park bench, a wildflower garden and drought-tolerant trees.
- St. Elmo Elementary
- Bedichek Middle School
- Crockett High School
Zip code: 78745
Supermarkets: HEB at 600 W. William Cannon Drive, (512) 447-5544; Randall's at 2025 W. Ben White Boulevard, (512) 443-3083
Post office: 3903 South Congress Avenue, (512) 441-6603
24-hour pharmacy: Walgreen's, 5600 S. 1st Street, (512) 441-4747
Hospital: St. David's South Austin Medical Center, 901 W. Ben White Boulevard, (512) 447-2211