Stream Realty Partners is eyeing the possibility of turning at least six of its properties on East Sixth Street into music venues, including a plan to convert the former Buffalo Billiards space into a daytime food hall with music in the evenings.
The partial reveals came Friday at a special meeting of the Music Commission where Caitlyn Ryan, vice president of the Dallas-based company, discussed the future of the entertainment district and some of the plans for the 30-plus properties it has acquired.
While reviewing Stream’s holdings and its push to increase building heights and conduct select demolition work on some sites to create office space and hotel uses, Ryan offered some details about what’s in store for her often-stated goal of making live music a significant component of the area’s revitalization. The Buffalo Billiards space at 201 E. Sixth may be renamed the Missouri House as a nod to its original use as a boarding house in the late 1800s.
There are ongoing talks with the possible operator of three restaurant/music venue spaces in and around the former Easy Tiger location, as well as a high likelihood of a music venue opening in the former Dirty Dog space. On the 500 block of East Sixth, Ryan said there’s a good chance of a below-ground music space opening, and the longtime Austin resident said, “My goal is eventually to bring Emo’s, in any way, shape or form, back to this area because this is where they started.”
Ryan said the declining presence of music venues in the district – due in part to rising rents – was one of the main reasons she and other Stream partners began investigating opportunities on Sixth Street in the years before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We thought, why is Sixth Street remaining as it is and why aren’t we seeing more live music there? In the last 10 years we’ve lost a huge part of the music community there,” she said. “We felt like it would break our heart if we saw somebody… come in here and turn these structures into everyday retail like Sephora or anything else that wasn’t an iconic piece of Austin’s history.”
Earlier this month City Council began the process of amending the city’s building code to increase the building heights on some sections of East Sixth Street owned by Stream. The company said those heights are the only way to generate the revenue needed to reconstruct the properties while promoting locally focused hospitality businesses such as restaurants and live music venues.
Anne-Charlotte Patterson, chair of the Music Commission, said she and other members will want to see Stream’s plans for promoting diversity and financial stability for the creative businesses the company wants to recruit into the area, as well as cooperation with community organizations focused on music and diversity.
“It’s a really ambitious project in many ways, especially because it’s so central to Austin and to our identity. You guys are taking on a lot, not just in terms of real estate but also in terms of the cultural life of Austin and some of the problems we are struggling with as a city right now,” she said. “One of those being that space downtown is really expensive and our music venues there really struggle.”
Commissioner Scott Strickland echoed the need for diversity among the owners and operators moving into new venue spaces in the district that has long been dominated by single-serve shot bars. He said a change from the rock-centric programming of many nearby clubs in the Red River Cultural District would be welcome.
“In Red River you don’t see a very diverse group of musicians … mostly kids in their 20s and some in their 30s and it’s just a lot of rock music,” he said. “It’s not really giving way to a lot of different cultures and different types of music that are much more prevalent in mainstream culture.”
Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.
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Chad Swiatecki is a 20-year journalist who relocated to Austin from his home state of Michigan in 2008. He most enjoys covering the intersection of arts, business and local/state politics. He has written for Rolling Stone, Spin, New York Daily News, Texas Monthly, Austin American-Statesman and many other regional and national outlets.
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