The Rainey Street District is showing signs of maturation as stakeholders are coping with the growing pains that come with such rapid growth. On August 19th, Bridget Dunlap, owner of the thriving Lustre Pearl bar, was approved for an Outdoor Music Venue permit (OMV). The OMV permit (new window), expressly for “winter months,” allows the venue to host amplified music.
Rainey Street proper is zoned CBD, a flexible zoning definition that enables a multitude of uses for properties. Little of the street’s CBD density entitlements are being used, as they are sitting idle waiting for big capital to return. The district is currently dominated by bungalow homes, and flanked by mid- and high-rise residential condos.
It was late 2008, early 2009, when Lustre Pearl became the first bar to open on Rainey Street. With smart design that preserved much of the historic bungalow aesthetic, Lustre Pearl seems to have set the trajectory for Rainey Street development over the next few years. Clive Bar, G’raj Mahal, El Naranjo, are all thriving in addition to three more bars under construction. According to Lustre Pearl’s General Manager, Scranton Twohey, Lustre Pearl is shifting to become more of a music-centric destination.
Dunlap and Twohey operate four venues: Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, “96” (upcoming sports bar theme across from Lustre Pearl), and an upcoming outdoor/mobile concept on the corner of Rainey St and Davis St (where Container Bar was planned).
What is it about Rainey Street?
- Nearly 1,000 residences anchored by Rainey Street.
- Big capital dried up, so no more big CBD projects for the next few years.
- No commercial infrastructure, little parking, intermittent sidewalks
- A creative surplus of funky bungalow houses
During the requisite notification period the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association (DANA) submitted a letter in opposition to Lustre Pearl’s OMV application. The Downtown Austin Plan expressly calls for limiting the number of cocktail uses, and further encourages uses that complement the quiet neighborhood character of the district. (pdf)
Mr. Twohey made assurances to DANA’s Public Policy Committee about limiting the genres of music, hiring a sound mitigation consultant, and withholding applications for his company’s three other venues. Despite those assurances, DANA and Rainey Street residents remained concerned that approving this Outdoor Music Venue permit will encourage more bars into the district, and those bars will also pursue Outdoor Music Venue permits.
The cost to apply for an Outdoor Music Venue permit is $50.
NIMBY disclosure – I live at the Shore condos, which is one block from Rainey Street