AUSTIN (KXAN) — A well-known piece of property in South Austin that’s referred to as the Austin Enchanted Forest is up for sale.
Owner Albert Deloach said he put the property up for sale because he feels like he’s being forced to as a result of the City of Austin’s Code Enforcement team not allowing him to operate events on the property for the past two years.
That property encompasses three acres near South Lamar Boulevard and Oltorf Street.
For more than a decade Austin’s Enchanted Forest has been a place for artists to showcase their work.
“Everyone who came in would say, ‘This is the most enchanted place. It’s the Enchanted Forest,” said Deloach. “And I thought it was kind of silly, but it just kind of stuck.”
When Deloach bought the land 25 years ago, his plan was to build an art center. Instead, it became a haven for artists to create unique, large pieces of work on the property.
“We’ve made it a small, little oasis in the center of the city that very few people know about,” said Deloach.
Throughout the years, that changed with events such as the Silent Disco and art festivals attracting thousands.
“We would put a stage over the creek, and so we could seat 700 or 800 people over there easily,” said Deloach.
It also attracted the city’s code enforcement team.
For several years, he was cited for noise, electrical issues, and — most recently — not having enough paved parking.
“But even after we had rented all of the parking that was necessary, it was like one thing after another that they would find for me to try and jump through,” said Deloach.
Deloach also said his taxes have reached a point where it has become an economic burden.
“When I bought the property 25 years ago, I paid about $9,000 a year in taxes,” he said. “This year, I was told by Travis County to expect a bill between $80,000 and $90,000.”
And with no events allowed on the land to bring in revenue and a failed attempt to develop the property so it could stay in his family, Deloach said he had no choice but to put the “For Sale” sign up.
“I am being forced to leave my home where three generations have grown up,” said Deloach. “I drive up and down South Lamar, and far more businesses with greater income and longer life than me are all gone. The growth of the city is inevitable with 100-some people moving here a day. You get gobbled up.”
The property has been on the market for about a month, and is listed at $3.3 million.
“There is no other property like it,” said Michael Bullard, Southwest Strategies Group realtor.
Southwest Strategies Group, the development firm behind the Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment, is the listing agent. Since the property is zoned for commercial, Bullard said a potential developer has lots of options.
“They could put retail, office, or anything else within the zoning rights,” said Bullard.
A creek runs through the back half of the property, making only 1.56 acres of the 3.1 acres available for development. Deloach just hopes whomever acquires the land keeps its essence.
“I just hope whoever manages and develops the property will cut as few trees as possible and keep the creek as nice as possible,” he said, “and keep it as pristine as we have over the generations.”