Was it only a year ago that we were fretting about whether SXSW 2020 would happen? (It was, and it didn't.)

Turns out that was just the beginning. The city blew past that historic event—the only full cancellation in the festival's 33-year history—and braced (kind of) for another one: the pandemic that would change everything.

Except, except: Austin didn't stop growing. Sure, things slowed down for a second. But by July 2020, the city's population had topped one million, and the Metropolitan Statistical Area held well over two million people. After a weeklong pandemic  shutdown, construction was deemed an "essential business" and continued apace. Residential real-estate prices broke records as housing inventory, which was not exactly robust in the first place, dwindled.  On top of all that, Tesla titan Elon Musk got mad at California and moved here—as did several notable tech companies, bringing thousands of West Coasters and new-to-Austin Texans with them and marking another turn in the sometimes comical narrative of their alleged Central Texas takeover.

Austin still might not seem all that large when compared to country's reliably gargantuan metros. The sheer pace of the ongoing growth can nevertheless be overwhelming, making it hard to sort out when you're in the middle of it. But Urbanize Austin is here for it. 

Urbanize, which launched in 2015 in Los Angeles, was born from a passion for cities and a fascination with how they are shaped. As the first (and only!) editor of now-shuttered site Curbed Austin (RIP), I developed and honed a similar fixation on Austin's built and natural environments. Urbanize is expanding its network now—sites in Atlanta, Detroit, and New York City are up and running (with a couple of my esteemed former Curbed colleagues in the editorial mix)—and today sees the launch of Urbanize Austin.

The site will feature news—and, equally important, provide context—on local issues related to development, urban planning, architecture, historic preservation, affordable housing, infrastructure, transportation, and commercial real estate.

We'll hit the big stuff: downtown towers, tech campuses, Project Connect. But we'll also bring stories on neighborhood developments and their impact on residents. We'll let you know what's going on with the new soccer stadium as well as how Austin is using its built environment to address issues such as homelessness. And we won't leave out the suburbs—many of which are easily outpacing Austin's growth. Along the way, we hope to help bring an array of voices into the conversation with an eye toward a more inclusive and responsive future for the city.

As you can see, this site is very much in its infancy, and you'll probably encounter a few bugs here and there (we're working on it!). We really want to hear from members of every Austin community as we grow; we're here to encourage conversations around development in the city and its impact on all of us.

That means we want to hear from you. Weigh in with comments, email us, tweet at us, get in our DMs, and find us on Facebook. We'll be here, at home in Austin.

Cindy Widner, Editor, Urbanize Austin

Tips? Questions? Story ideas?

Contact me at cindy.widner@urbanize.city