The roughly 60 people who live at the Goodall Wooten, a residential dormitory on the Drag known affectionately as “The Woo,” have been told they have to vacate next month and find new housing after being told the building was sold.
The announcement, which came April 16, surprised many tenants, said resident adviser Jennifer Beardsley, who has lived at the Goodall Wooten, 2112 Guadalupe St., at different times over the past eight years and has relied on it for cheap rent in the otherwise saturated and expensive West Campus area bordering the University of Texas.
“It is a dorm, but really it is more diverse than just students,” she said. “I would say half the people here are working adults. … A lot of them are being put out. Everyone identifies this as a dorm, but we are kind of unofficial low-income housing.”
Beardsley said she and other advisers were called last week into a meeting with the building manager, Kevin Wright, who told them the Wooten would be sold and residents had to leave by May 16, when their leases expire.
She said they weren’t told whether the building would be torn down or redeveloped, but in the days that followed, they told all the residents they would have to leave.
“At least half accepted it,” Beardsley said. “A few people are kind of holding out and trying to get other people to stay.”
The Wooten, which was built in 1956, is valued at $5.2 million, according to Travis Central Appraisal District records.
A deed history shows it has not been sold yet and lists the owner as David McCullough, who could not be reached Friday.
No site plans have been submitted to the city for the property, records show.
The Wooten is classified as off-campus residential housing and is not directly affiliated with UT. Beardsley said it offered 91 private and shared rooms ranging in rent from $390 to $864 per month.
Some tenants said they were offered short-term lease extensions if they needed time to find a new place, UT student newspaper The Daily Texan reported.
The Austin Tenants Council, which advocates for renters’ rights, said it is likely residents don’t have much legal recourse. Its executive director, Juliana Gonzalez, said she couldn’t say with certainty without seeing the leases, but “everything so far indicates to me that their legal obligations have been met.”
“They signed leases for a particular term and that term is done,” she said. “That doesn’t mean it’s right.”