Austin, Demolished: Eight Years of Wrecking-ball Data

Above this line of text your web browser should be cycling through images of the more than 5,000 Austin properties that have been permitted for demolition since 2007. Among them, of course, is the site of the former Jumpolin piñata store on E. Cesar Chavez, which was bulldozed in February—piñatas and all—to make way for an SXSW event.

If there’s an upside to that appalling incident it has been the subsequent public outcry and elevated dialogue about the pace of development throughout the city. The Jumpolin demolition has also served as a reminder that beyond the headline-grabbing development cases there are scores of buildings demolished in Austin every month, most of which receive very little attention.

With Austin’s astonishing rate of growth in mind, I’ve set out to examine trends in building demolitions and get a sense of what is disappearing from the Austin cityscape. Thanks to data provided through a City of Austin public information request, you can view the number of demolition permits issued by council district below.

Hover over/touch the chart to view monthly totals:

Building demolitions per month by City of Austin council district, 2007-2015.

You can see that District 9—which stretches from South Congress to Hyde Park—leads the city in demolitions by wide a margin. We can also observe a steady rise in demolitions in West Austin’s District 10, as well as the Eastside’s Districts 1 and 3. The sudden spike in District 2 demolitions is almost entirely driven by the Onion Creek flooding and buyout.

If demolitions in these areas are a symptom of reinvestment and redevelopment then it’s safe to assume they will continue to trend upwards in parallel with property values. In any case, demolitions provide an interesting barometer of Austin’s changing built environment, and I’m looking forward to digging more deeply into the data.

Expect a parcel-by-parcel map sometime in the next week or so!


Sources: City of Austin; D3.js;