Last month I wrote about six items downtown Austin could significantly benefit from. It’s a slow news morning, so I thought I would re-post the links together. Politicians love to talk, form task forces, and spend time doing everything except for making decisions as they are needed. So, this is an appeal to Downtown Austin stakeholders that know how to get things done: the residents, developers, retailers, and land owners.
This is what we need:
1) Super Target on Congress Ave. (link)
2) Hardware store on Congress Ave. (link)
3) More bodega grocers (link)
4) Move social services away from Sixth Street (link)
5) Improved landmark protection and design standards (link)
6) Urban Rail (link)
The ABJ poses the question. The real question is: why is retail turnover so high on Second Street?. The answer is quite simple and academic.
Income < Expenses
There you go. The worst economy in a century does not generate enough income for a boutique clothing or furniture store to thrive. Combine that with already expensive leases (in the ballpark of $32/ft NNN) and Second Street finds itself in a perfect storm for tenant default. Eventually, empty store fronts will have a snow ball effect on adjacent retailers. Landlords are loathe to lower their lease rates, but perception is often reality, and the perception of Second Street is “luxury” goods. Many marketers will tell you that “luxury” is no longer a good adjective to promote your wares.
Now, as I’ve written before, the tenant mix on Second Street, and in downtown Austin in general, is out of balance. The next wave of successful retail in Downtown Austin will be for stores offering goods and services that people can afford and need to purchase on a regular basis.
Address the tenant mix problem and Second Street will be an unquestionable success.
This was completely off of my radar, and I’m not sure when it opened. I’m glad it did! More good news for East Sixth as Bird’s Barbershop has opened their third location. I’ve been to Bird’s on South Lamar a few times and it’s a damn fine place to get your hair shortened. Good people. Good vibe. Beer.
I’m partial to Goodlife Barbershop, but Bird’s is a welcome addition to East Sixth.
Quick… think of the top three table-service restaurants, east of Congress, which are open at 7am to serve breakfast on weekend mornings?
Stumped? Can’t even think of one?
There weren’t any, until now.
This morning I had breakfast at the new El Sol y La Luna restaurant at 6th & Red River. THIS is what is needed on East 6th Street! There are so many residents and visitors in this area ready to spend money on items other than alcohol. I’ve never been to their first location on South Congress, but the vibe was a combination of Magnolia meets Las Manitas meets Habana. The food was very good (I had an american breakfast of eggs, bacon, and waffles). Two entrees, two drinks, plus tip was $25. El Sol y La Luna gave me a reason to walk on the northern edge of the 600 block of East 6th street, which is a good sign for other businesses to move to the district.
I don’t want to sound overly grand, but I really think that in combination with the efforts of the DAA, DANA, and 6th Street Austin, El Sol y La Luna is the catalyst for change on East 6th. Show your support through patronage.
According to Taylor Andrews of Andrews Urban, via the Statesman, the nearly 14,000sf of retail space below 360 condos is for-sale, coincidentally for about $360psf. Royal Blue just moved in. Mulberry is super-cool. Haven’t been to Blu Cafe, yet.
From the article… “The space, totaling about 13,700 square feet, is almost all leased. Tenants already open or coming soon include Garrido’s, a restaurant from former Jeffrey’s executive chef David Garrido; Mulberry and the Lara Reynolds art galley.”
Each day this week I am serving up one item, with non-politically correct candor, that Downtown Austin needs to become a model of re-urbanization, as I see it.
Politicians love to talk, form task forces, and spend time doing everything except for making decisions as they are needed. So, this is an appeal to Downtown Austin stakeholders that know how to get things done: the residents, developers, retailers, and land owners.
I want more local grocery stores like Royal Blue or Fresh Plus
Developers, do you want a successful building? Then just give George Scariano space with free rent. I’m only partially kidding. This is a huge amenity. Not just developers, but the hotels and convention center should be lobbying for this type of retail. Fancy finish-out not required. A successful Downtown neighborhood has multiple choices for purchase groceries on a daily basis. The only thing that bugs me about Royal Blue is that both locations are on the wrong side of Congress for me to quickly get there.
Tim Finley has a place available at E. 5th @ Trinity – the large warehouse where Paradox used to be located. Think of the convention and hotel traffic in addition to the residential business from 555, Brazos Lofts, Avenue Lofts, Sabine, and Railyard. These are all located within a couple of blocks of 5th @ Trinity and combined include over 368 units not counting the Four Seasons!