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Red River Street gets cultural district designation from the City

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Michael Corcoran

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 17, 2013

No longer considered a row of stand-alone clubs, Red River Street received cultural district status by the Austin City Council by unanimous 7-0 vote this morning. The immediate impact is in marketing, as the newly created Red River Cultural District will now be linked to Sixth Street in brochures and online material for visitors.

But the resolution, written and sponsored by the Austin Music People (AMP) music business advocacy group, also directs City Manager Marc Ott to address parking and musicians’ loading/ unloading issues in the district. Bands being ticketed for unloading their gear at the entrance of live music venues has long been a complaint downtown. Basically, the cultural district designation legitimizes such clubs as Stubb’s, the Mohawk, Beerland and Elysium, who’ve had to weather the uncertainties of clubland without an umbrella.

“This is long-desired and well-earned,” AMP’s executive director Jennifer Houlihan said of the designation. “This is a community that works hard all year and contributes so much to the city. They’re not alone anymore. They’re part of a greater community of businesses that can promote themselves together.”

The dictrict runs from Esther’s Follies at the corner of Sixth Street to Symphony Square near 10th Street.

Houlihan said an official banner-hanging party will happen in the first week of November. For those who can’t wait to celebrate, the victory spirits will be flowing at 5 p.m. today at the Mohawk. “We have been working on this for over 3 years,” Mohawk owner James Moody posted on Facebook after the resolution passed. “Congratulations to everyone that has sweated over this - its important for Austin.”

Red River live music venues are expected to face new challenges when the Waller Creek Tunnel is completed around the end of 2014 and new development along the eastern edge of downtown could dramatically raise rents and other expenses. Though the creation of the Red River Cultural District doesn’t change anything in the way of zoning or historical preservation at the moment, Houlihan said “the clubs now at least have a seat at the table” if changes are to be made.