Violet Crown Cinema, set to open in the 2nd Street District of Downtown Austin 4/29/2011. New information: Prices for tickets: Matinee tickets – $9; all other shows M-TH – $11, and $13 Fri. – Sun. The opening lineup will be announced March 22. [Read more…] about NEW Rendering – Violet Crown Cinema
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The 2nd Street District in downtown Austin is known for being a chic shopping and dining district in the city center. Populated with trendy wine bars, boutique dress shops, upscale furniture stores, and fashionable residential apartments and condos, 2nd street’s motto “Shop. Live. Dine.” seems to encompass your options pretty completely.
Well, not after April 2011. The 2nd street district’s motto will most likely have to change to add the word “See.” As in, see indie art films. The Violet Crown Cinema is slated to open in late April of this year. [Read more…] about Violet Crown Cinema To Open In April
Take a look at the original layout of Austin — what we now call Downtown Austin, the grand cultural and economic gemstone in the greater Violet Crown — and you will see a street grid that is so thoroughly connected that it makes Frank Sinatra look like a friendless schlub from District 6.
But the intervening century-and-a-half has not been so kind to our great municipal waffle iron. Look at it now and witness so many strange ruptures that break apart once-fully connected streets.
Some fissures can be blamed on nature. Take the strange case of San Antonio Street at W. 7th, for example, an odd diversion necessitated by a fairly steep cliff.
Other fissures are entirely man’s fault — although you’re entirely excused for believing that the hulking Austin Convention Center and its permanent (and possibly growing!) dominion over Neches, W. 2nd, and W. 3rd streets is actually an act of divine terror.
Finally, there are fissures whose blame is shared by both nature and man. While nothing short of a zip-line* could patch San Antonio Street back together and, indeed, only divine terror could address the Convention Center, there are extremely exciting developments happening to stitch back together one of the most unfortunate examples of this third category, and on Thursday we saw one of the more satisfying fruits of those efforts.
Behold! A newly-set pedestrian bridge spanning Shoal Creek at the convergence of W. 4th and Rio Grande streets. After it arrived by truck from Alabama on Wednesday afternoon, Austin Public Works crews spent all day Thursday setting into place the $675,000 glorified gangplank (which shouldn’t be confused with the nearby Butterfly Bridge that will soon reconnect W. 2nd Street across the creek).
The bridge is a key part of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt Trail Improvements Project, an ongoing $4.5 million effort to rehab a truly rad pedestrian and bike trail that runs *almost* the full of length of Downtown. Once the project is completed in October 2016, the missing parts of the trail south of W. 5th Street will be in place and you’ll be able to walk, jog, or cycle from Pease Park all the way to the Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake without having to tangle with car traffic.
On the street level, though, the new pedestrian bridge gives pedestrians and cyclists a new option to cross the creek in area that has seen and is continuing to see some of the most exciting development in town. Opposite of W. 4th and Rio Grande, will rise Austin’s tallest skyscraper, The Independent. Adjacent to that residential tower is the 360 Condominiums, the Green Water redevelopment site, the new Downtown Central Library, and Seaholm — a dense blend of residential, commercial, and cultural destinations.
Naturally, the new pedestrian bridge won’t be shouldering the load all by itself. Helping out is the existing pedestrian bridge over Shoal Creek on W. 3rd Street as well as that aforementioned Butterfly Bridge that will carry cars, pedestrians and cyclists).
Along with the newly created Walter Seaholm Drive and the eventual reconnection of West Avenue to W. Cesar Chavez, one key section of the Downtown grid is slowly reemerging from a badly needed cosmetic update that, as this section of town always does, badly puts the rest of Austin to shame.
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.
Leasing ABIA = urban rail?
Getting better public transportation is so centric to the future of downtown, it always surprises me that there are not more occasions to write about it. In Austin, our current plan is called “urban rail” and it has almost become this amorphous type of buzz-word over the years. If you asked ten people “what is the urban rail plan?” I bet you would get 10 answers (or more likely you’d get seven blank stares and three answers).
The long-short of urban rail is this: It is a project the old Austin mayor (Will Wynn) pitched for downtown, and one that our current mayor (Lee Leffingwell) keeps bringing up, but no other council members, or any of our main business groups, ever seem to get very vocal about.
A little while ago, the Statesman reported that City Council was hot to trot to get something passed by voters before we switch our council makeup from seven-at-large members, to ten district members and one at-large, but we have still not seen very much action.
Suddenly, this week, the Statesman reported that Mayor Leffingwell is proposing a plan to lease out our airport, aka “ABIA”, in order to fund urban rail.
KUT did a follow up that notes airports in Chicago and Puerto Rico have leased their airports, but six others abandoned the privatization idea after pursuing it.
Downtown adds more retail
Toy Joy, one of the coolest shops in the city, has been up near UT for years, announced it is moving to downtown, just below the Violet Crown on Second Street.
Recently another shop, Consuela, opened up at Ninth and Congress.
This is exciting news for downtown, because retail shopping – regardless of our personal preferences – is a vital component to a thriving urban ecosystem.
Eighth and Neches hotel to be eight stories
I’ve done a couple posts about this hotel, but we finally have some specs on the new hotel across from Stubbs on Red River and 8th St.
The developer plans demolish the existing 117-space (hideous-looking) garage and build three stories of parking into the sloped lot with a five-story hotel above.
The $30 million project would bring about another 200 rooms to downtown. Given that this site is just a few blocks south of the proposed medical school, I think it is a smart play.
Last night we snapped some pics of the construction of the mezzanine level of AMLI on 2nd’s retail space along 2nd Street. According to AMLI the deal with Violet Crown is still solid and we can expect an arthouse movie theater in the near future. It appears from the rendering that the entrance will be the staircase and elevator next to BoConcept.
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At the west end of the 2nd Street District, directly above the soon-to-open How Do You Roll sushi restaurant, will soon be downtown Austin’s latest cinema – The Violet Crown. We reported back in January that 2nd Street District was getting a new movie theater. The Statesman’s Chris Garcia gets the latest info on The Violet Crown. Scheduled to have four screens, with bar/lounge, and opening in December.
The construction will actually expand the mezzanine level by a couple of feet over the sidewalk.
The Violet Crown should make a great addition to the district. At first glance it would appear they are taking on the Alamo Drafthouse head on. However, the Violet Crown might take on a more refined lounge-like experience, trading high ball glasses for buckets of beer.
The removal of the W Hotel’s street barricades this summer will unclog the pedestrian experience in the 2nd Street District, but will be especially welcome to the 400 block that includes BoConcept and La Condessa.