Editor's note: Andersson Wise responded after press time. The article below has been updated to include the statement.

Seven years after the announcement of the St. Elmo Public Market, the renovated warehouse was listed for sale in July 2022.

Last promised by developers to open in 2021, the market has sat empty since its completion in 2022. Marketed as including dozens of food and beverage vendors, seven restaurants announced plans to become anchor tenants in the market. All but one have officially dropped out of the project.

Austin residents have asked Community Impact what happened to the project. Residents are moving into the only completed project from the vision—St. Elmo Apartments—just feet away, which remains dark. According to several residents, the market was promised as a future amenity.

“I’ve seen [the public market concept] work in several different markets. It’s the mix of businesses that keeps traffic flowing throughout the day,” said Cara Gambini, owner of Texas Hill Country Olive Co., which will no longer be part of the project. “Austin would be a perfect place for this concept, so I hope someone buys the property who can turn the project around.”

The market’s initial developer was Maker Bros., a Dallas-based construction and real estate company, in partnership with Groundfloor Development. The architect was Andersson Wise, based in Austin.

"We simply don't know what happened, other than the project went on hold," Andersson Wise Marketing Director Robin Logan said via email.

Multiple attempts to reach Maker Bros. as well as Groundfloor Development, including CEO Brandon Bolin, received no response as of press time.

Also owned by Maker Bros., the market and surrounding land’s total asking price is $22.5 million.

Vendors depart

In 2018, officials with Dripping Springs-based Family Business Beer Co. announced plans to join the market.

General Manager Gino Graul said construction delays prevented the company from taking possession of its space in the market, and this issue was further exacerbated by the pandemic. In March 2020, the brewery officially withdrew from the project.

MaieB Hospitality, the group behind Austin-based restaurant Olamaie, planned to open a new concept in the market. The restaurant, an all-day diner and bakery named Mignette, is no longer involved in the project.

The Texas Hill Country Olive Co., a family-owned olive oil company based in Dripping Springs, backed out of the project during the pandemic.

“The original group was looking to build a true public market,” Gambini said. “During the pandemic, it started to sound more like a food hall. It wasn’t what we signed up for, so we backed out.”

Greater Goods Coffee Co. officials confirmed with Community Impact they are no longer involved in the project.

Officials with Salt & Time, a full-service butcher shop and restaurant at 1912 E. Seventh St., Austin, announced their involvement in the project in 2018. It is the only tenant remaining.

“We look forward to a resolution and are hopeful [St. Elmo Public Market] will find a buyer who will move forward with the project,” Salt & Time owner Benjamin Runkle of Present Tense Hospitality said.

Attempts to reach other involved businesses, including Fire Dance Pizza and Lick Honest Ice Creams, did not receive responses as of press time.

What’s next for the district

Despite silence surrounding the market, the once fully industrial area south of Ben White Boulevard has begun to see a boom of redevelopment. Known as the “St. Elmo District,” real estate investors and developers, such as Leifer Properties, are acquiring property, including warehouses, for mixed-use or residential developments.

“It seems like it’s all right now coming to fruition, and the neighborhood will improve as new residents move in,” Max Leifer of Leifer Properties said.

Commercial real estate agency Aquila referred to the district as the possible “next development boom in Austin’’ in a 2019 report by Kirk Silas. More than 2,000 multifamily units and 200,000 square feet of commercial space have been brought to the district since 2016, Silas said.

That same year, an array of businesses opened at The Yard, located at 440 E. St. Elmo Road, Austin. The complex includes St. Elmo Brewing Co., The Spokesman, Raw Paw, The Austin Winery and more, all housed in renovated warehouses, like the St. Elmo Public Market concept.

The Public Loft condos opened 217 units in 2018 and is credited by Aquila as the first major multifamily development in the district.

Within walking distance to the market, multifamily housing—such as Bishop Momo by developer United Properties and Congress Lofts by Intracorp—is under construction.

“We see having [the market] in close proximity to residents, should it move forward, as a resident amenity,” United Properties Development Director Brenda Studt said.

As the St. Elmo Public Market sits for sale, an opening date remains unknown. A developer interested in purchasing the property is not obligated to open it as a public market concept, unless stated in the contract, according to Eric Bramlett, realtor and owner of Bramlett Residential.