Rising rent pushes local businesses from South Congress strip

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South Congress Massage relocated to 1512 1/2 S. Congress Ave., Austin, from its previous location at 1210 S. Congress Ave., Austin, on Aug. 1 after the business owner says her rent was tripled.

The relocation is the second on the strip that includes 1200-1210 S. Congress Ave. in as many months.

The Turquoise Door II, which opened in 1989 and sold American Indian jewelry and Latin American folk art, closed its storefront at 1208 S. Congress Ave. in July, when its lease expired. The owner said he would have preferred to remain in the location but high rent and unfavorable terms made it untenable.

The other tenants, which include Heritage Boot Co.; noir boutique Blackmail; home, gift and clothes boutique Favor the Kind; and Creatures Boutique, remain open. Blackmail celebrated its 20th anniversary last October, and Heritage Boot Co. opened in 2007.

According to the Travis County Appraisal District, the strip is owned by Greenfield Partners LLC, a Connecticut-based private equity real estate investment firm. The company also owns the Austin Motel, which it purchased at the same time as the strip in 2016.

In the last five years, the strip’s assessed property value has more than doubled, from $1,471,609 in 2014 to $3,273,648 in 2018.

Across the street, a major mixed-use development called Music Lane is under construction. Its first phase is scheduled to open in September 2019, according to Austin-based developer Endeavor Real Estate Group’s website.

Music Lane’s announced tenants include London-based members-only club Soho House and upscale gym Equinox.

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Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her reporting focuses include employment and economic development. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.
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