City of Austin v. Harry Whittington: the saga of a parking garage

17k square feet of retail held hostage by the court

17,000 square feet of empty retail space rests at the base of the Convention Center’s parking garage. This retail space has the potential to add vibrancy and day time services to the Entertainment District.  This is the only retail space within a few hundred feet of the 555, the Sabine on 5th, the Hilton, the Hilton Garden Inn, and the Convention Center.   So, why hasn’t this space been filled?

After the jump:  Part 1 of the chronology of City of Austin v. Harry Whittington
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Historic Downtown Austin property for sale

by jude galligan

downtown austin 107 w 6th 78701

107 W 6th St Austin, TX 78701

To the chagrin of everyone who lives, works, and drives through Downtown Austin, the former office of the Texas Comptroller has owned, occupied, vacated, and allowed to rot, this remarkable piece of real estate.  I can’t imagine how many thousands of people have attempted to peer through the windows that were covered from the inside with thick construction paper.  From the outside, the building always had a cool mid-century modern design.  Located at the corner of 6th and Colorado, and not burdened with a Capitol View Corridor, I expect this building to get the attention of some big developers.  The listing gives it an address of 107 w 6th, 78701.  Traviscad has no address for it other than “W 6th”.

H E B at corner of 6th and Colorado

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Downtown Austin By The Numbers: How many hotel rooms?

by jude galligan

Driskill Hotel Lobby

Driskill Hotel Lobby

If you’ve ever had family visit on a weekend when there was a UT home game, then you’ve likely seen downtown Austin hotel rates jump to over $400 per night.  Central Austin is notorious for having insufficient hotel space.  I’ve taken a non-scientific, yet hopefully rigorous approach – I called every hotel in downtown Austin and simply asked “How many hotel rooms do you have?”

The answer is after the jump!

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Downtown Austin's Entertainment District: Observations part 3 of 3

Downtown Austin Entertainment District Still Has Room For Improvement – Part 1 of 3
Night time observations on the Entertainment District: Part 2 of 3

The effort to revitalize the Entertainment District is about recognizing problems and offering solutions.  It is about a higher and better use of Austin’s historic landmarks.  It’s about preventing decay.  It’s about offering an array of services to the people who use the Entertainment District everyday.  Adding more day time services is not a slippery slope to J Crews and Baby Gaps!  This is about making the Entertainment District safe for everyone.  This is about visitors leaving Austin with a more positive experience.

Flickr slideshow of day time photos

one of Austins historic landmarked buildings with a plywood sign (???)

one of Austin's landmarked buildings adorned with a plywood sign (???)

Day time tour
Saturday, November 22nd (11am-1pm)

  1. Where is everybody?
  2. Narrow sidewalks, empty parking
  3. “No, I don’t have a cigarette you can bum”
  4. “No, I’m not giving you change”
  5. A sandwich on the sidewalk
  6. Broken glass
  7. An empty Austin Visitors Bureau with a broken neon sign
  8. Landmarked buildings that look abused and neglected
  9. “Couldn’t they at least paint those doors?”
  10. Landmark plaques next to broken windows
  11. An ATM that someone had tried to rob
  12. Jail-style bars on doors and windows
  13. Awnings torn, tattered, and covered in dirt
  14. Too much chain link fence
  15. ATMs are everywhere
  16. A pay phone booth without a pay phone
  17. Waller Creek is shamefully littered
  18. There is 17,000 square feet of unused retail space at 5th & Sabine.

Towards the end of Saturday’s day time tour, Marshall Jones (President of DANA) and I were standing on the northeast corner of 6th and Brazos sharing observations.  We see a guy across the street.  He’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt, picking up litter on the street, and putting it in the trash.  Turns out this was John Erwin, owner of B.D. Rileys Pub.  John had no idea that Marshall and I were watching him do this.  We caught up with him and chatted for a few minutes.  What I like about John, and people like John, is that he is proactive and doing right by our community.  Kudos, John!