A real estate company now owns more than 30 properties on East Sixth – TOWERS
As part of our long-running beef with the mismanagement of Austin’s many historic properties on East Sixth Street, we’ve often complained that one of the reasons the conga line of seedy shot bars in this neighborhood of entertainment remains so similar to each other is that they’re mostly owned by the same handful of people, who for years have had a vested interest in keeping things the way they are.
But following several recent shootings, with some kind of reckoning going on in the city about how we could improve public safety in this historic neighborhood, we started thinking about the problem in another way – and if a entity owned much of the street and elected to use its powers for good? We hope that’s the case with the folks at Dallas-based real estate firm Stream Realty Partners, Austin’s largest commercial property management firm and now proud owner of approximately 32 distinct addresses in the district of East Sixth bar, by county records.
According to previous reports in 2020, these sites were taken over by various Stream-connected entities from a number of owners, including shampoo mogul and top Sixth Street landowner John McCall, with current records indicating that the transactions have taken place over the past two years or so – more than a year ago the coverage named 10 properties changing hands, a number that has now more than tripled.
Although it’s not quite the whole street, at the moment Stream is running the show on the north side of two full blocks between Neches and Sabine Street, with the exception of a single recalcitrant apparent to 502 East Sixth Street, working like the Lone Star Souvenir & Food Mart and owned by an entity apparently unrelated to Stream, FRC&A LLC. It’s also highly 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 yet to identify.
Stream also has a dense cluster of former McCall’s holdings on both sides of the street at the “gateway” to the neighborhood near the I-35 frontage road, including the former downtown community courthouse. from Austin to 719 Sixth Street East, the now closed original location of the Easy Tiger bakery and beer garden in 709 East Sixth Street, and parking which could potentially be arranged at 712 East Sixth Street. Earlier this year, Stream requested a Capitol View Corridor assessment for this north parking lot and the area on the South Street site east of Waller Creek between 709 and 725 East Sixth Street, an area primarily bounded by multiple hallways. view but potentially capable of some form of low rise infill development.
But what does all this mean? Previous reports suggest that Stream is simply making a good investment, but even if that’s the case, we don’t think a large professional company would buy such a huge assortment of adjoining sites without at least some sort of vision in mind for this investment – perhaps not a major development, since the neighborhood is largely (and rightly) protected by its historic status, but at least a more active form of stewardship that could raise the area’s public safety standards in line to some of the latest ideas we’ve seen.
The deep pockets and organization of a large corporate landowner could more easily partner with the city to improve the neighborhood, maintain consistent policies across multiple retail spaces, and perhaps even seek rezonings for more diverse uses on Sixth, perhaps enabled by various infill developments along the way. It’s all a bit hazy at the moment, 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 Bivin: Your company also acquired numerous retail businesses, bars and former commercial buildings and lots along the Sixth Street entertainment blocks in downtown Austin. What is your vision of this growing assembly?
Preston Young: It’s like the old saying of Mark Twain: “Buy land. They don’t do anything anymore. We are big believers in Austin. We all thought Austin was a special place before anyone else, and we are heavily invested in it. We look at real estate and place building. We look at the residential resurgence in downtown Austin, the walker there. When you have a good command of real estate in a certain area, you have options. I can’t look you in the eye right now and tell you what our plans are for the next 10 years. But we know from pure history that the immobilization of land sites bodes well for the future.
– Real estate report, February 11, 2021
And the second from a guy on Reddit:
A little insider info here, Stream has quietly bought most of the bars on 6th Street and will try to emulate Broadway St in Nashville.
More bars and restaurants during the day, live music, family, etc. The vast majority of crime on 6th street is committed by minors and imo accommodating an older audience will help tremendously.
—Reddit user “shpoopler”, r/Austin
If you can’t trust a guy named “Shpoopler,” bro, who can you trust? Anyway, if anyone at Stream is reading this, how about a night market?