AUSTIN (KXAN) - It is time to say good-bye to an iconic South Austin artist community.
Residents living at the Wilson Street Cottages , most of them artists and musicians, have 30 days to vacate their homes to make way for new condos to be built.
Built in the 1970s, the cottages have been home to well-known local musicians like Ronnie Lane, Carolyn Wonderland, The Gourds, The Damnations and Scrappy Jud.
"You can really feel like there is just a magic to it," explained Charlie Faye, a songwriter who is spearheading a movement to create affordable housing for artists in Austin. The initiative is known as the Wilson Street Cottages Project.
Along with their water bill, residents living in the dozen cottages received a letter from Ely Properties telling them a project to put condos up in place of the cottages was moving forward.
Residents knew three years ago the condos were coming and were transitioned to month-to-month leases while the developer acquired funds to start construction on the condos.
Meanwhile, some of the artists and musicians set out to save the cottages and create an affordable housing community that would serve fellow artists.
"I am not against development. I just want to preserve what makes this city great," Faye said.
The Wilson Street Community teamed with Design Build Alliance, a local nonprofit organization, with the intention of moving six of the cottages to a new location, which would serve as the base of the new affordable housing community.
Faye said three years ago project organizers had the funding to move the cottages and secured a mover, but are now in need of more time to find property to move the cottages that also will be suitable to build additional housing units, obtain building permits and find funding to build.
"Three years ago, we kind of had all of our ducks in a row," Faye added.
Faye said the cottages will likely be stored until all the pieces of the project come together.
What residents are worried about is losing a piece of Austin history.
Musician Will Sexton currently lives there and has visited friends there for the past 25 years.
"There are not a lot of places that work well for like-minded musicians and we need to stop losing these beautiful spots," said Sexton.
Sexton's mother used to live in the cottage next door to the one he currently resides in.
"So many songs have been written in these little cottages and it has always been just a community," Faye explained.
That community feel is something resident Amanda Kitchens will miss.
"Our upstairs neighbor is a standup bass player and we hear him practice as well," said Kitchens. "I love it."
Kitchens equates losing the community to growing pains, as Austin's population continues to grow and the demand for new housing continues to rise.
"I absolutely think it is growing pains. Austin is such an amazing place," Kitchens added.
Kitchens, Sexton and Faye fear that accommodating growth is coming with the cost of losing some of the city's unique enclaves.
Calls to Ely Properties for comment were not immediately returned.
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