Street Patio Experiment: Congress Ave @ Royal Blue Grocery

Street Patio Experiment: Congress Ave @ Royal Blue Grocery

1 royal blue street patio

I love this idea for downtown Austin.  Convert two duck-in parking spaces in front of Royal Blue Grocery on Congress Ave, in order to improve the pedestrian experience and create a retail destination.

“Street patios” have been implemented before in other cities, successfully, under the badge of “parklet” or “pop-up” cafe.

Upon approval by Council, later this month, the initiative would be a partnership between the City of Austin and Royal Blue Grocery, with design coming from Studio DWG and civil engineering firm Big Red Dog.

The street patio in front of Royal Blue Grocery is just a trial run.  If successful we could see more street patios in other parts of downtown.  The results should provide more space for pedestrians and a cafe sitting area, similar to Jos on 2nd Street.  WIN!

More pics after the jump.   [Read more...]





What Type Of Retail Will Replace The AMOA?

What Type Of Retail Will Replace The AMOA?

AMOA retail space - 3

With downtown Austin’s AMOA no longer exhibiting at 823 Congress Ave, what will fill the void?  Most stakeholders I know are hoping for retail.

The corner space includes 12,000 square feet, lots of glass (fenestration for the urbanistas), and has a nice outside plaza.

It’s clear what is missing from the downtown retail mix: a large destination retail store that appeals to a broad base of customers; rather than a boutique store with a limited audience.

Will us downtown Austin condo dwellers get our wish for a Breed & Company or Target (don’t hate!).  Time will tell.  Until then it’s fun to speculate about how to achieve highest and best use of this great space.

What do you want to see?  Use the comments and see more pics after the jump.   [Read more...]





Brooks Brothers Brings Back The Brass

Brooks Brothers Brings Back The Brass

brooks brothers window entry way downtown austin - 2

Walking up to the entrance of the new Brooks Brothers store in downtown Austin‘s Scarbrough building, I smiled.

I thought to myself, this is how downtown retail should look and feel.  The entrance has a gilded age grandeur that we’re no longer accustomed to in a downtown retailer.  Big window displays run the length of the building.  You’re greeted by brass doors with elegant hardware.  It’s the details that matter. [Read more...]





Urban Wine + Liquor Takes Last Retail Space At The Austonian

Urban Wine + Liquor Takes Last Retail Space At The Austonian

the austonian - photo credit Thomas McConnell

The last retail space under downtown Austin’s Austonian condos will go to Urban Wine + Liquor and its proprietor, Austin-based wine expert Buckley Wineholt (great name for a wine expert).

The store will offer wine, spirits, beers, barware, imported cigars and cigarettes, and a choice of artisanal foods including Texas-produced items. The shop’s 2,615-square-foot storefront on Congress Avenue will be designed by local design-build firm Bercy Chen Studio.

The Austonian retail has turned out to be a boon for Congress Ave.  I’m a big fan of the Caffe Medici space – one of my favorite coffee shops.  This should be a compliment to the neighboring Second Bar + Kitchen, too.





Jazz at Annie’s: Jim Cullum Jazz Band Returns to Annies Café & Bar

Jazz at Annie’s: Jim Cullum Jazz Band Returns to Annies Café & Bar

Picture 1

Looking for date night ideas this week or next?  Try this:

After playing to standing-room-only crowds of die-hard jazz fans at a sold-out, mid-winter residency at Annie’s Café & Bar, the historic Congress Avenue bistro has arranged to have Jim Cullum return to Annie’s as summer draws to a close – this time presenting the electrifying new jazz prodigy, clarinetist Evan Arntzen. Austin jazz fans once again will have a rare opportunity to hear the world-renowned Jim Cullum Jazz Band as well as Arntzen’s exuberant new talent that has won awards and generating buzz around the world.

It’s all at a special jazz and dinner series hosted by Annie’s Café & Bar at 319 Congress Avenue on Thursdays, September 15 & 22.  Seatings will be at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.  There will be no cover charge with entrée purchase.





New Life For Congress Ave Store Fronts

New Life For Congress Ave Store Fronts

Littlefield building image

More tenant changes are on tap in the shadow of the Capitol on on Congress Avenue.

Middle Eastern restaurant Marakesh Cafe & Grill, at 9th and Congress, closed its doors and has a sign indicating its looking for a new location, but its fate is questionable.

[Read more...]





And Then There Were Two

And Then There Were Two

austin convention hotel wars

A well timed announcement for a 50+story hotel at Red River and Cesar Chavez has shifted the attention away from the Mariott Marquis seeking a waiver of $4MM in development fees.

The latest hotel announced by Manchester Texas Financial Group is receiving good reviews for its design, ambition, and potential for embracing the Waller Creek District Master Plan.

To be clear, there really isn’t a choice here.  Each project is pushing forward on their own merits.  But the timing begs the question “which building can break ground first?”.

Both would be significant additions to the skyline and economy.  Development fee waivers, if any, will likely go to the project that is most prepared and that can begin construction soonest.

That’s incentive!

Below is a rendering of the “Grand Hotel” at Waller Creek

grand hotel on waller creek





Mega Hotel Subsidy Draws Fire From Austin Council

Mega Hotel Subsidy Draws Fire From Austin Council

congress ave hotel

It seems that having Armbrust & Brown attorney Richard Suttle as the representative of the hotel developers I wrote about Monday may be a little too hot for some council members to handle.

On Tuesday morning, Council Members Bill Spelman, Sheryl Cole and Laura Morrison seemed skeptical that his clients need almost $4 million in city breaks to help to build a hotel downtown.

Students of city politics should note that the power base at city council has now shifted from Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez and Chris Riley — who are losing defeated incumbent Randi Shade — to the other council members, who are gaining Kathie Tovo next month.

[Read more...]





Based on information from the Austin Board of REALTORS ® (alternatively, from ACTRIS) for the period through 9/2/14 5:14 PM PDT. Neither the Board nor ACTRIS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. All data is provided “AS IS” and with all faults. Data maintained by the Board or ACTRIS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

Information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.

This IDX solution is (c) Diverse Solutions 2014.