AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin City Council passed a resolution Thursday evening directing the City Manager’s Office to allow developers to build on top of existing Sixth Street businesses in the entertainment district.
The district — increasingly known as “Dirty Sixth” — runs from Brazos Street east to I-35. Building heights were previously capped at 45 feet throughout most of the street.
Stream Realty, which owns several properties on Sixth Street, asked the city for the code amendment so it can build a hotel and office building. This is all part of the Dallas-based company’s plan to revitalize “the heart of Austin, while preserving its historic roots,” according to the proposal.
Thursday, City Council members passed “allowing a structure located on East Sixth Street and east of Neches and west of Sabine to have a maximum building height of 140 feet or that allowable under the Capitol View Corridor, whichever is less.”
While Stream pitched these laxer height restrictions for its specific projects, Council wanted to broaden the scope, which is why the City Manager’s Office is now preparing a blanket code amendment for the aforementioned stretch of East Sixth that other developers can adhere to as well.
Gun violence continues to plague this stretch of Sixth Street. It’s been just about one year since one person was killed and 14 others were injured in a mass shooting near Sixth and Trinity.
City Council passed the Safer Sixth Street initiative earlier this year, which includes several safety measures aimed at curbing gun violence.
Bar owner Jesse Fortney says he welcomes the change, but doesn’t think it’s the answer to all of Sixth Street’s problems.
“[It] represents positive change, but it doesn’t represent safety,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the street is going to be any safer. I don’t think it’s going to push the crowds away that cause the problems.”
We spoke with him the weekend of ROT Rally, a time, Fortney says, where he’s accustomed to seeing bikers flock to Sixth Street.
“ROT Rally used to be a staple of Austin, Texas, and Sixth Street,” he said. “And now it’s gone.” He posted on social media the night before where he mentioned not seeing any bikers around.
We spoke with riders at the rally Friday about why they opted out of spending the evenings downtown. Some told us this is because the event moved from Travis County to Bastrop.
But others said it’s because they don’t feel safe there anymore.
“It’s too dangerous for one and a lot of the clubs are no longer open that we prefer to go to,” said ROT Rally attendee Bubba Whit.
According to the attorney representing Stream Realty, the goal of changing the height restrictions is to help diversify the uses of Sixth Street so the entertainment district is viewed more than just a party spot.