Downtown News & Rumor Roundup

Downtown News & Rumor Roundup

There’s been a smattering of interesting dining news recently:

1)     The original Opal Divine’s on West Sixth Street will close on May 31st. They are currently working on a deal in the downtown area for a 5400-square-foot new Opal Divine’s. Look for an announcement soon on the exact location. Projected opening date is June 2014. (Dear lord, please don’t let another ‘effing steakhouse move in to Opal’s soon-to-be vacant space.)

2)     Memphis-based Gus’s Fried Chicken is moving into the Mongolian Grill spot, on San Jacinto and Second Street. This little stretch of downtown has consistently had well-intentioned people (Hank’s Garage, anyone) fail horribly on the stretch, but who knows… Americans love chicken.

3)     Dallas-based TexMex eatery Uncle Julio’s is setting up shop on the ground floor of the Whitley. By the look of the recent press releases the chain has issued, Austin is just one stop on Uncle Julio’s rapid expansion across America.

Austin homeless arrests present quagmire

Austin, with its warm weather and generally liberal leanings, have always been a home to a large transient and homeless population.

However, new data released by the city, in response to a request from Council Member Chris Riley, shows that for the first seven months of FY 2013, there have been more homeless-related downtown community court cases than in all of FY 2012. In addition, just about half of the cases originate from repeat offenders.

According to the city, the Austin Police Department began executing public order initiatives in fall 2012 – coincidentally, right about the time it rolled out the red carpet for Formula One – which has resulted in the problem offender population receiving many new charges, mostly related to City Ordinance violations, such as Camping in Public.

So says the city: “Unfortunately, there are extremely limited options in finding permanent supportive housing for problem offenders with extensive criminal histories. Without options for permanently housing these individuals, they will continue to receive new cases, further limiting their chances for acquiring housing.”

Go to the source here (PDF)

Council hands $2M to event promoters

The city is revamping its Special Events Ordinance, and a topic that keeps floating around the downtown neighborhood crowd is how much in fees City Council is waiving for these events.

Council Member Laura Morrison asked and got the answer: $2 million from the beginning of FY 2012 through FY 2013 year-to-date. These fees, from what I understand, are related to the costs of having traffic and public safety staff working on events and plans in place.

Not surprising, SXSW is granted the lion’s share, about a half million in waived fees.

I’m sure a lot of these organizations that are receiving waivers are fulfilling charity missions, but I’d be curious to know if the City Council ever asks for, or audits after the fact, how much of the profit generated by these events actually goes to a charity.

Go to the source here (PDF, hat tip to InFact Daily, which reported this this week. They are behind a pay wall, so no link guys.)

Amber and I got married!!!

After eight wonderful years, my longtime girlfriend Amber – who is also the backbone of my real estate business and a strong DAB contributor – and I had a wonderful downtown ceremony at 9th and Congress.

I’m going to steal a page from Car Talk and ask you to refrain from posting any congrats in the comments section. Instead, write any notes of congratulations on the back of a 27-inch iMac – with a 3.2GHz third-generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, high-capacity 1TB hard drive and advanced NVDIA GeForce graphics, packaged in an incredibly razor-thin, all-in-one design – and deliver it to my office. (Please write any notes in a water-soluble marker as to not hamper the resell value.)

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. Lance Hunter says

    The closing of Opal Divine’s has eliminated the last tolerable place to get a drink on West 6th. It’s amazing how gradually it happened, but now the stretch between Guadalupe and Whole Foods has turned into this bizarre mirror image of dirty 6th, where the city’s thirty-thousand-dollar millionaires go to be the same kind of terrible people they were on dirty 6th back before they graduated, but in more expensive clothes.

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