Welcome to the New Sixth Street

Sixth Street
  • Stream Realty Partners has bought up about 40 properties on historic Sixth Street.
  • It recently received approval from the Austin City Council to begin its revitalization of the area.
  • This will include a new hotel, a residential tower, while hopefully keeping the character of the area with live music venues.

If you are like me, you’ve probably heard a lot of rumors about the revitalization of Sixth Street. But haven’t really seen anything going on. And every time I asked someone what they have heard, nobody seemed to really have the answers. Except for the folks at Stream, I reckon.

Sixth Street is iconic in Austin. Its one of, if not the, most famous areas of the city. But COVID was rough on it. And it definitely could use a makeover.

Well I had heard the rumors that a makeover was coming. But hadn’t seen the progress yet. That all changed two weeks ago when there was a big step forward taken. And now the work may begin.

Makeover Coming to Sixth Street

For the past four or five years, Stream Realty Partners has been buying properties on Sixth Street. They have apparently amassed approximately 40 properties in the area. After spending about three years accumulating these properties, Stream announced its plans in the Spring of 2022. At that time, it said that it planned to revitalize a large area of what we all affectionately call “Dirty Sixth.” This revitalization was to include offices, hotels, restaurants, and entertainment.

Since that time, I have not heard much more on the project. For anyone involved in development in Austin, of course, this is not that surprising. Getting plans through the City Council can be … time intensive.

I have heard a lot of concern, however. That area of Sixth Street has a lot of good memories for a lot of people. It’s a classic area. It does need help and revitalization. But we also don’t want to lose the fun and character. And more importantly – the music venues where local musicians can play.

City Council Approves Measures

On July 20, however, there was news. The City Council finally approved Stream’s plans to update Sixth Street. To make the makeover financially viable, Stream asked for increased height restrictions from the current 45 feet. As a result, between Sabine and Neches, the City Council approved new construction up to 140 feet.

Stream announced a few definitive plans for this strip of Dirty Sixth. It plans to build a 150 room hotel that will be approximately six floors high. It also plans to build a 122 foot high residential tower. Stream does plan to keep some music venues in the area and expand the width of the sidewalks to 25 feet.

Sixth Street Makeover is Welcomed

We all love Sixth Street. Or at least did love it at one point. But I don’t think there’s any real doubt it needs some updating. COVID was not friendly to the area. Many of the venues shut down at least temporarily and appear to continue to struggle. And crime in the area has increased.

So Stream coming in and making some improvements and refreshing the area could be terrific not only for the new parts of town but also for the parts of Sixth Street it does not revitalize.

Having said that, I have written in this blog and talked on my podcast about how Austin is losing its artist performance spaces. I don’t know the Stream folks but its not hard to imagine that with the new construction will come higher rental rates. And I worry that those will drive out some of the traditional music venues. Or make it more difficult for new ones to open up. And that’s not good for anyone in Austin. I hope, therefore, that Stream can figure out a balance between its needed revitalization while keeping – and expanding – performance venues for artists.

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