Archives for March 2015

Downtown Austin Alley Activations – Open House for Rainey Alley

Downtown Austin Alley Activations – Open House for Rainey Alley

A little over two years ago today, we wrote about a very cool Alley Activation project done by Art Alliance Austin.  In the article, we said that many cities around the world are starting to embrace alleys as more than just loading / unloading and trash dumpster zones.  We think that for certain alleys, the concept of revitalization and activation makes a ton of sense.

One such alley in the Rainey district of downtown Austin is getting a second look, compliments of the City’s recent acquisition of funding to pave what’s currently little more than a dirt passage littered with dumpsters behind all of your favorite Rainey Street bars. The alley goes from River Street to where the construction for the Millenium Rainey apartments begin (Millenium Rainey received an alley vacation so they were able to build right over the alley).

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Rainey Alley today, looking north

Millenium Rainey Dead-ends Rainey Alley

Millenium Rainey dead-ends Rainey Alley

We think this is very exciting for the neighborhood not only in the broad sense of representing “out-of-the-box” thinking to maximize public space within the limited confines of an urban area, but more practically and specific to the location – we think this activation may have the effect of “bringing in” the businesses on East Avenue that currently face I-35, encouraging more serviceable and integrated uses to make them fit into the neighborhood they inhabit, rather than being hunkering warehouses with chain-link fences, or out of place and isolated highway bars like the ill-fated Agora.**

The establishments on East Avenue are technically part of the Rainey Neighborhood, but many couldn’t feel more incongruous with their surroundings.

We encourage those interested in upgrading the alley to come to the Mexican American Cultural Center at 600 River Street on On April 7, from 9am-7pm. The City is inviting the public to come and give input on current uses of the alley and solicit constructive ideas for future uses that also preserve the “essential service functions” of the alley.  Feel free to share constructive ideas in the comments below, too.  We’ll be dropping by the Open House and are happy to share any cool ideas on our readers’ behalves!

More info here.

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**Legacy leather bar Chain Drive is currently residing in part of the structure at 84 East Avenue today.  It was formerly tucked away and hidden in plain sight on Willow Street off of Red River before being pushed out – likely due to parcel consolidation for the Waller Park Place / Waller Center.  Even though it’s not a bar we personally visit, we’d actually like to see it stay around for posterity, if nothing else.

Get your Fixe for Southern Comfort Food in Downtown Austin

Get your Fixe for Southern Comfort Food in Downtown Austin

Southern style restaurants are not a new concept for downtown Austin.  With great restaurants like Olamie, Bess Bistro, and Moonshine, I would say the bar is set fairly high in this particular arena.

Fixe, the newcomer on the scene, recently opened in the very slick, very new IBC Bank Building, right across 5th street from the Federal Courthouse complex, and is a hop, skip, and a jump away from downtown Austin condo towers like Plaza Lofts and the 360 Condos.

Given the lack of historical character on the building’s exterior, I was setting my expectations low, prepping myself for an upscale, but watered-down experience – a business-lunch destination, with a general lack of gumption.

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Austin’s Top Ten Coffee Shops 2015

Austin’s Top Ten Coffee Shops 2015

Every couple of years Downtown Austin Blog likes to take inventory of Austin’s best coffee shops.  With SXSW approaching, thousands of visitors will be looking for a respite, so it is a great time to update our picks.  Coffee shops in Austin are everywhere. They’re a dime a dozen. They’re right up there with the food trailer trend. There are even coffee shop-food trailers. You can find coffee shops inside book stores and even inside bike shops.

So how does one navigate through the multitude of places to grab a cup of joe in Austin these days?

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