It’s really no news that Austin is a booming city. I overheard on the trail that something outrageous like 180 people are moving here or transplanting on the daily. That’s a staggering number that I don’t entirely believe, but it is a number that is easier to feel. Walking around the city the vibe has began to change. Slowly, the quirkiness of East 6th street has began to be streamlined by “minimalist” shopping complexes. West 6th street has seen the gutting of classic venues like Momo’s and Miller Blue Print to make way for rooftop pools and yet another cocktail soaked bar reeking of Drakkar Noir. Despite the disdain one may have for these establishments, they are direct reflections of a city in growth. Growth that was only stunted by an economic downturn and is now gaining steam and picking up where it last left off.
The trailers in Austin began their turn in the spotlight as development came to a halt during that downturn. As development was underfunded, hotels, shops and condos were put on hold. To mitigate the lack of development, the lots were rented out to trailers. Popular trailer parks like the East Side Drive-Inback in March and other trailers were booted from their respective spots. No closure however has created as much early buzz as the impending closure of the SoCo Trailer Park. Back in April 2012, we were interviewed by KUT about this closure. In October, a rash of worry spread as well with a slew of articles.
Since then, Austinites have been dreadfully awaiting the news of when this park will shutter. To be honest, I think the majority of folks (including myself) just tucked it away and hoped that if we forgot, so would the developers. Sadly, a countdown has been presented. The closure of the SoCo trailer park has been slated to take place after SXSW according to The Daily Texan. While you have this festering anger, keep in mind that the development company, SoCo ATX Development, is a division of CSE. Ring a bell? Oh they’re the company that houses the all-mighty ACL Festival which is now a 2-weekend event according to Culture Map Austin. Hotel in a prime tourist location… own a music festival roughly 2miles away? Let’s just say this is no coincidence.
The park on SoCo is by far the most popular in Austin. It has been featured in magazines, tv shows, interviews and used in endless amounts of B-Roll for anything Austin. Although panic has set in at the grandest scale I’ve seen on this topic, all hope is not lost. A last ditch effort by an Austin crusader named Brian Delligan comes by way of an online petition. This petition aims to save the trailer park or at least some iteration of it. I can’t say that this will swing the development company’s mind, and I was unable to find a success rate for Change.org petitions, but it’s certainly worth the effort. At the time of this article, we’re only about 1,000 signatures shy of hitting the goal. From there… well who knows.
Needless to say even if SoCo Trailer park is indeed set to vanish, there are other parks out there. This is by no means a defeat or the end of the trailer park industry in Austin. Perhaps the flagship trailer park in Austin going away, but the core of the industry still remains. The trailer park’s anchor, The Mighty Cone, jumped shipped early and went to Rancho Rio Eatery (a purpose-built trailer park). Although this trailer was essentially one of the founding fathers of the site, the park didn’t flounder upon its departure. The trailer is thriving at it’s new location. So, what does this mean for the trailer industry? Well, not much in my opinion.
Our food trailers are young. There is a constant evolution happening where they must evolve, adapt and create new opportunities. A few years ago, a trailer catering a wedding was unheard of. Look at them now… they’re everywhere. Chi’Lantro is catering my rehearsal dinner. Just like there are new opportunities for trailers, there are new spots. Just recently, The Peached Tortilla moved to 6th and Waller from their seemingly permanent Star Bar location which made way for Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. Trailer lots will come and go, bars will bring trailers in, trucks will cater events and visit offices. The great part about this is that purpose-built trailer parks are starting to become a “thing”. There are a good amount popping up including the South Austin Food Park, Rancho Rio Eatery, Mimi’s Trailer Park in San Marcos and the Pflugerville Pfood Ranch (Check them out here). Trust me folks, as long as there are loyal, hungry and passionate patrons like yourselves Austin food trailers and trucks will thrive and they’re tourism attraction will only grow.
Have your own thoughts and opinions on the matter? We’d love to hear what you have to say. Comments below!