As part of our long-standing struggle with mismanagement of Austin’s many historic properties on East Sixth Street, we’ve often complained that just one of the reasons why this entertainment district’s range of seedy shot bars is remains so similar to each other in character that they mostly belong to the same handful of people, who for years have had a vested interest in keeping things as they are.
But as a result of several recent shootings, with some sort of math going on in the city as to how we might improve public safety in this historic district, we started to think about the problem in another way – and if one entity owned much of the street and chose to use its powers for good? We hope this is the case with the employees of Dallas-based real estate firm Stream Realty Partners, Austin’s largest commercial property management firm and now the proud owner of approximately 32 distinct addresses in the East Sixth bar district, according to county records.
According to previous reports in 2020, these sites were taken over by various entities connected to Stream from a number of owners, including shampoo mogul and Sixth Street principal landowner John McCall, with current records indicating the transactions have happened over the past two years or so – over a year ago the cover named 10 properties changing hands, a number that has now more than tripled.
While it’s not quite the whole street, for now, Stream is running the show on the north side two full blocks between Neches and Sabine Streets, except for one apparent resistance to 502 Sixth Street East, functioning as the Lone Star Souvenir and Food Market and belonging to an entity apparently unrelated to Stream, FRC & A LLC. It is also very likely that the company has more properties in its sights on Sixth, with some transactions potentially not yet public or through LLCs that we have not yet identified.
Stream also has a dense cluster of former McCall holdings on both sides of the street at the neighborhood ‘walkway’ near the I-35 frontage road, including the former home of the Downtown Austin Community Court. at 719 Sixth Street East, the original now closed location of the Easy Tiger beer garden and bakery in 709 Sixth Street East, and a parking lot that could potentially be set up at 712 Sixth Street East. Earlier this year, Stream requested an assessment of the Capitol View corridor for this north parking lot and the area of the South Street site east of Waller Creek between 709 and 725 East Sixth Street, an area primarily bounded by several lanes of sight but potentially capable of some form of low rise infill.
But what does all this mean? Previous reports suggest that Stream is simply making a good investment, but even if it is, we believe that a large professional company wouldn’t buy such a huge assortment of adjacent sites without at least some sort of vision in mind for it. this investment – perhaps not a major development, since the neighborhood is largely (and rightfully) protected by its historic status, but at least a more active form of stewardship that could raise the public safety standards of the city. region in line with some of the latest ideas we’ve seen.
The deep pockets and organization of a large landowner could more easily partner with the city to improve the neighborhood, maintaining consistent policies across multiple retail spaces and perhaps even seeking rezoning for areas. more diverse uses on Sixth, possibly enabled by matching infill along the way. It’s a bit of a blur right now, but let’s take a look at two recent quotes that suggest this direction, the first from a podcast interview with Stream partner Preston Young:
Ralph Bivins: Your business has also acquired numerous retail businesses, bars and old commercial buildings and plots along the entertainment blocks of Sixth Street in downtown Austin. What is your vision for this expanding assemblage?
Preston Young: It’s like the old saying of Mark Twain: “Buy land. They no longer benefit from it. We are great believers in Austin. We all felt Austin was a special place before anyone else, and we are heavily invested in it. We look at the real estate and the manufacturing of the place. We take a look at the residential resurgence in downtown Austin, the pedestrian factor there. When you have a good grasp of real estate in a certain area, you have options. I can’t look you in the eye now and tell you what our plans are for the next 10 years. But we know from pure history that immobilizing the land will bode well for the future.
– Report on real estate news, February 11, 2021
And the second from a guy on Reddit:
Little insider info here, Stream has quietly bought most of the bars on 6th Street and will attempt to emulate Broadway St in Nashville.
More bars and restaurants during the day, live music, family friendliness, etc. The vast majority of crimes on 6th Street are committed by minors and imo complying with the demands of an older audience will help considerably.
– Reddit user “shpoopler”, r / Austin
If you can’t trust a guy named “Shpoupler” brother, who can you trust? Anyway, if anyone at Stream reads this, what do you think of a night market?