Rainey Street Historic District (Austin, Texas)
Rainey Street Historic District
The appropriately named Bungalow bar on Rainey Street. One of the many houses turned business in the Rainey Street Historic District.
|Location||Austin, Texas, USA|
|NRHP reference #||85002302|
|Added to NRHP||September 17, 1985|
Rainey Street is positioned near Lady Bird Lake and Interstate 35 in the southeast corner of downtown. Though 21 buildings are specifically identified as a part of the historic district, the stretch of Rainey between River and Driskill includes 31 buildings built before 1934, giving the neighborhood a historic character relative to other areas of the city. The district includes 120 acres (0.49 km2) from 70 to 97 Rainey Street. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The situation at Rainey Street is unique in that the area was once a sleepy residential street, albeit nestled right next to downtown, was rezoned as part of Austin's central business district in 2004. The hope at the time was to encourage development near the Austin Convention Center and the since-built Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. But while grander development has stalled, bars and eateries have flocked to Rainey, since CBD zoning enables traffic-heavy cocktail bar or restaurant use without any additional zoning request. As such, old bungalows have been fixed up and turned into bars and cocktail lounges with ample backyards and porches. Indeed, there are many new bars under construction on Rainey Street: Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden, the Blackheart, Javelina, Jack and Diane's and Rainey Street Bar are all under various stages of construction/rehabilitation.
Rainey Street remains dominated by single-family homes. Its National Register status has become controversial as land values surrounding the district have skyrocketed, leaving most of the homes worth significantly less than the land they sit on. New developments nearby, including multiple high-rise condominium buildings and Austin's new Mexican-American Cultural Center, have contributed greatly to this.
Deliberations are underway within the city government to develop a long-term plan for the area that allows redevelopment while preserving the street's historic and residential character. Since none of the individual buildings within the district have been designated as historic structures, they are eligible for demolition, though each building destroyed must be approved by the city's historic landmark commission.
In popular culture
- National Register of Historic Places
- Austin Downtown Commission, Rainey Street Report, December 2003. Accessed January 18, 2008.
- "Travis County, Texas". National Register of Historic Place. Retrieved Sep 7, 2011.
- Dunbar, Jr., Wells (Jan 28, 2011). "The Lure of Rainey Street". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved Nov 24, 2011.
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