Austin’s Old Bakery: What Is Highest & Best Use?

Austin’s Old Bakery: What Is Highest & Best Use?

In 1976, the City of Austin utilized federal Older American Act funds to establish a multifaceted gift shop selling handicrafts and original art by local artists 50 or better.

That was the mission for the Old Bakery & Emporium, located at 1006 Congress Ave.

I’m as surprised as you that this concept didn’t take off and IPO within a few years.

Alas, charming as it is, the Old Bakery has not generated much buzz to date, and stakeholders are looking for new ideas

The Old Bakery building is one of the finest historic commercial buildings in Austin.

“The Old Bakery was vacant, deteriorating and scheduled for demolition when it was rescued through the combined efforts of the Austin Heritage Society, which purchased the structure in 1963, and the Junior League, which donated $12,500 for restoration work. In 1964, the Heritage Society began operating a Tourist Information Center and Coffee Kitchen at the site. When the mortgage was paid off in 1970, the Old Bakery was sold to the State of Texas. The state of Texas deeded the building and property to the City of Austin in 1980.”

If we look towards the Norwood House, we might conclude that deeding a property to the City of Austin will lead to certain neglect. However, the Old Bakery has survived City stewardship quite well.

With Little City gone, and Starbucks now kicking out laptop hobos, I can imagine the Old Bakery purposed as a retail space for a broad base of daily customers.

One of the site’s greatest amenities is being adjacent to a park, which suits it for al fresco opportunities.

What do you think the highest and best use of the Old Bakery is?

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For inspiration, checkout Nice & Smooth making the old to the new.

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. Austin Healy says

    ” I think downtown’s retail hours of operation are completely fubar. Retail businesses seeking a broad base of customers should be open when people are not at work.”


  2. How about actually selling baked goods? I was really surprised to find it wasn’t an actual bakery when I passed by it on my lunch break. Perhaps people don’t know what they actually have inside. The new parking hours are going to kill a lot of business’s downtown because not many people will pay to pop into a gift shop. Also, they sell crafts by (mostly?) seniors, which I think is great but they should add more local artists. That would generate larger profits and draw more people. We have a lot of art lover’s here.

    Good point about the hours and convention visitors. Is it even advertising anywhere?

  3. The Old Bakery is very charming, and could generate a lot of buzz, if it would be open during times when people could actually visit it. It’s current hours are M-F 9am-4pm. What is that? Conventioners can’t visit it because they are in trainings and break-out sessions until 5pm, and locals can’t visit it because they are closed on the weekends. If the Old Bakery changed it’s hours to Monday-Saturday 8am-8pm and Sunday 10am-6pm, and if they would market themselves to the hotels, concierges, and UT alumn, I guarantee they will become a destination for visitors and locals alike.

    • Agreed, more broadly, I think downtown’s retail hours of operation are completely fubar. Retail businesses seeking a broad base of customers should be open when people are not at work.

  4. Austin Healy says

    With Lomography coming, and the old AMOA spot open… it would be nice to see something that would attract more people to that part of Congress. I say either funky retail, or the new emo’s! 😉

  5. In terms of it being a destination, parking is likely the biggest challenge. I believe there are a few onsite, surface level, spaces. There’s public parking along 10th Street.

  6. Restrooms for tourists/bus-riders? I kid. But only sort-of.

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