Open Thread: What Types Of Retail Do You Want In Downtown Austin?

What is downtown Austin missing? What is working? Where is retail trailing demand?

Leave your ideas in the comments.

About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude has served on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.


  1. affordable retail! Target, maybe a department store, Gap, Old Navy…I know they are chains but the local boutiques are not affordable for the average resident. Downtown austin used to be the main shopping hub. The local boutiques mixed with more main stream retailers would, in my opinion, bring more people to downtown…making it more of a destination. And preventing downtown residents (current and future) from having to get in their cars and drive through traffic to the Domain when they need a new t-shirt.

  2. I doubt very much whether Macy’s fit the look of Manhattan when it was first built – it was much larger than any store they’d ever seen before; and doesn’t have fake individual small store-fronts or whatnot.

  3. Right, but they should fit in with the look and feel of downtown.

  4. The ironic thing about all the big box hand-wringing is that big boxes are a traditional part of urban retail. Macy’s NY, anybody?

  5. Howz-about a Dollar General, ACE Check Xpress, EZ Pawn, Cricket, Short Stop, and Pollo Rico?

  6. I think the most important thing is that anything that is added fits into the character of the city. We don’t want a big box store to destroy the look of downtown. Anything that is built should be required to have a certain look, or better yet – reuse/retrofit an existing historic building.

    A more affordable grocery store option would be great, as well as a clothing store like the gap. Also a petsmart or anywhere you could bring your dog into would be fun.

    • Nicole,

      I agree with the affordable grocery store/Gap additions. However, there’s already a locally owned pet store you can bring your dog to on 2nd street . . . Lofty Dog. Prices are better on many items too.

  7. Trader Joe’s would be amazing! H&M, Club Monaco and other national retailers that are not yet in Austin would be great. How about a card/stationary store? I would really love to see the AMOA finally get a larger space downtown.

  8. Wow, Ryan, I both really like and really don’t like your post. I live on the 16th floor of one of these new towers downtown and let me tell you, I don’t fit your assumed profile of condo dwellers and neither do most of my neighbors. My fiancée (an AISD kindergarten teacher) and I both finished school within the last year. I don’t own a car, nor have I for the past six years (I travel by Nike and I-Pod). We live comfortably by trading the higher transportation costs and bigger electric bills we had living in the ‘burbs for a slightly higher mortgage and a better retirement account (not to mention the time and stress we save from not have an auto-oriented life). Downtown Austin needs and will get more grocery stores, a new movie theater, many new stores and hopefully an urban Target. I don’t believe that the Target will run everyone else out of town. I need some new undershirts; I’m not going to go to 2nd Street to find them.

    I feel that the #1 thing Austin needs is a real transportation system. We say we are a “green” city, and then we force 99% of our population to drive. We have a decent bus system, but buses work best as an aid to a train system (aka the backbone of a sustainable transportation system). But, thanks to the regressive nature of our state politics and our almost vehement obsession with destroying our environment, we have a system that strongly encourages low-density, balloon framed homes to cover the land replacing every forest or farm it touches.

  9. Jesus, I can’t imagine anything worse than a SuperTarget at 6th and Congress. Talk about a traffic and logistical nighmare, not to mention the complete inability of any other local retail being able to survive downtown after that. If downtown Austin wants to truly become a real “neighborhood,” (which I don’t actually believe that they do) they’re going to have to put in affordable housing and some grocery stores/delis/convenience stores/video stores/movie theaters/etc that are actually useful and that people need every day, not just upscale retail that nobody can really afford, and chi-chi restaurants that people drive in from the suburbs for. There’s a place for all of those things, but it’s not a real neighborhood that belongs to the city until it has some variety of things for everyone. If people just live 30 stories above the street in million dollar condos, park their SUV’s in the condo garage, and never actually walk around on the street, and still have to drive across town to get decent groceries, you haven’t created a lively, urban neighborhood, you’ve created a wealthy, exclusive suburb that happens to be vertical instead of sprawling. I’m ALL FOR density, I LOVE density (in fact, I left my beloved Austin to move somewhere else because I was so sick of driving and spending all day in my car), but I cannot wrap my head around why Austin thinks all these billion dollar, 85-story condos are the answer. Austin needs mid-rise density, public transit, affordable housing, variety, and convenient stores that people can walk to if it wants to truly be a city of the future. Austin’s city council is so inept and hypocritical (or maybe they are really just stupid, I’m not sure which) it embarrasses me.

  10. patricia paredes says:

    downtown san francisco has a ross store — how about a tmobile store, a bed linen store, a manicure and pedicure and mini massage salon would be great — not high end but, geared more towards the “i office close” lunch crowd. i’d like to see a godiva chocolate store and a sur la table or williams sonoma store — also,some more modern art gallery’s — thanks :).

  11. Trader Joes! But seriously, some reasonably priced grocery (HEB) and amenities and shops that serve the lower middle class as well as upper. If I lived downtown, I would want to be able to walk to an HEB, a drugstore, etc. Things that would make it more of a true neighborhood.

    • Trader Joes would be the perfect compliment to a downtown environ. I’m not sure I support generic chain stores but one full service store such as a Target would be handy for us residents…if it could be done like up in a couple of floors of one of these high rises and not a ground level. I love the indie businesses (I own one) that are starting to flourish here and when the big guys come in, we are often forced out as market rents become unsupportable. Think about the culture you want to live in everyday, wouldn’t you rather know the shopkeepers on a first name basis and have a little color in your life? You won’t get that in the Gap. Indie retailers however should take note, it should NOT be all about high priced boutique shopping. P.S. I love Macy’s too….but could not afford to have my store in the same block. So you gotta pick one or the other I am afraid, it’s just a fact.

  12. A gap would be awesome. I know it’s not keeping Austin weird, but sometimes we need a staple piece of clothing quick and the mall is annoying to go to.

  13. I would like to see an art cinema theater, a real NY style bakery, Mom and Pop deli, a Dillards or Nordstroms, some mid priced, themed style restaurants that are not chains, more lobbies willing to host art shows for emerging artists, transportation besides cab, bicycle or pedicab.

  14. I definitely agree about the hardware store, having to drive to Breed’s is not fun.

  15. Rainey Street is one of the most under-served districts in downtown. It has one of the highest concentrations of residences – over 800 – and a tree lined street with commercially zoned houses waiting for renovation.

    Bridget Dunlap has already begun with bars Lustre Pearl and Clive Bar, now it’s time for a broader array of retail services.

    Imagine how great it would be if a Royal Blue or Fresh Plus rehabbed and took up occupancy of one of those bungalows.

  16. An Apple store, please.

  17. More late-night dining options and more convenience type stores that are also open late. I moved down from Chicago and there no matter where you live you are never more than a block or two from the above and much, much more.

    Oh and a few late night bars would be great. I so miss the 4 am clubs in Chicago.

  18. Super-target is a good idea. Either that or an HEB. Or a Fresh Plus. Something affordable. CVS doesn’t count (if there were a “super-CVS” with a decent produce section, then it would work).

    Maybe we can compare with the 29th & Guadalupe area. What are the walkable options there?

    – Restaurants: Tons of good food (sure, and some bad, too…). And lots of cool ones, too… a new one being Bite Mi (Vietnamese Sanwiches)
    – Grocery: Wheatsville (it’s no Fiesta as far as prices go, but it’s more affordable than Whole Foods)
    – Hardware store: Breed & Company… elements of Target there, as well.
    – Parks: Shoal Creek greenbelt, etc
    – Renaissance Market
    – Public transport: Lots of buses on Guadalupe, Lamar, Speedway, etc.
    – Bike maintenance: Tons
    – Car maintanance: Flamingo, Groovy-lube, etc..
    – Computer repair: Bits & Bytes
    – Drug stores: CVS, CVS, etc..
    – Bars: Tons.
    – Live Music: Hole in the Wall, Spiderhouse, etc
    – Video Arcade: Arcade UFO
    – DVD/Video Rental: I Love Video, Vulcan, Blockbuster
    – Donuts/Ice Cream/Desserts/Samosas: Ken’s, Amy’s, Yogurt Spot, etc
    – Haircut/salon/wax/manicure options: Tons
    – Clothing: Buffalo Exchange, others.
    – Fitness: Several options.
    – Cinema: Dobie (downtown has the Ritz), Does Spiderhouse count?
    – Arts: UTPAC
    – Museums: Blanton
    – Laundry/dry cleaning: Tons.
    – Banks: Tons.
    – Toys: Toyjoy
    – Vibrancy: Yes.

    It goes on and on….

    And they’re not all super-expensive. Many if not most of them are local. Rent in this area is not so bad, either.


  19. I’d love a mini HEB like the converted Albertsons at 183 and McNeil/Spicewood Springs.

  20. It would be great to have a decently priced grocery store downtown like HEB.

  21. As I’ve written before, I’d like to see a SuperTarget at 6th and Congress on Congress

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