Apr 14, 2022 - News

The redevelopment of an Austin urban void

The La Bare site under construction

Construction underway at the old La Bare site. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

A low-slung, underdeveloped urban void by the corner of East Riverside and South Congress Avenue is poised to transform big-time.

The big picture: A long-abandoned strip club, the dormant Austin American-Statesman property, a tire shop and nail salon will likely soon be razed or remade for a series of projects lining up city permits.

Driving the news: This week, NoCo Hospitality announced it was remodeling La Bare, the old strip club that shuttered in 2007, into a new nightlife venue.

  • It closed after city officials decided that as an adult-oriented business, it was too close to the Texas School for the Deaf and the Lady Bird Lake Trail.
  • The reimagined venue, on an 11-acre lot that's also leased by the Texas Department of Transportation, will be opened by a group behind the new Higher Ground bar downtown, as well as Hotel Vegas, Volstead and Reina.
  • The 12,000-square-foot space is currently under construction with architect Fred Hubnik (Whislers, Nickel City, Sour Duck Market) as the design lead.
  • Bobby Clay, talent booker for C3 Presents, which is helping fund the project, told Axios the new venue will specialize in electronic music.

What they're saying: "Our project presents an opportunity to ensure that music remains an integral part of the redevelopment of South Congress and the South Central Waterfront District," Chris Skyles, co-founder and managing partner of Elevate Development Partners, another project funder, told Axios.

Meanwhile: The Austin City Council is chewing over final approval for the massive redevelopment of the Statesman building, with negotiations over affordable housing requirements.

A rendering of the Statesman redevelopment.
A rendering of the American-Statesman redevelopment project. Photo courtesy of Endeavor Real Estate Group
  • And a 330-foot office tower is in the works for a portion of South Congress Avenue just south of the Ann Richards Bridge. The proposed tower would replace a Firestone Complete Auto Care, Bridgestone tire shop and River Spa Nail Salon.

Our thought bubble: When it comes to highest and best use, there's not much that currently speaks for this strategically important Austin spot.

  • Back when he was a Statesman reporter, Asher had to pick his way through no fewer than three massive, often scorching parking lots — including the strip club's — to get from the newsroom to Freebirds to grab a tinfoiled burrito.

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