Music venues and other businesses deemed vital to Austin's culture and vitality were given a $15 million lifeline Thursday.
Austin City Council unanimously approved the SAVES Resolution, which allocated COVID-19 relief money evenly among three major funds:
- $5 million: Music Venue Preservation Fund
- $5 million: Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant
- $5 million: Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant
Music venues qualify for the first two funds, making them technically eligible for up to $10 million in relief money—the amount that advocates requested earlier this week during a City Hall rally. The extra support for music venues recognizes the special place they have in the community, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.
City Council passed the SAVES resolution that creates a dedicated music venue preservation fund. This is only the 1… https://t.co/J1qjNuWsSr— Austin Texas Musicians (@Austin Texas Musicians) 1601594539.0
Qualifying restaurants, bars and art organizations will also receive money from the Austin Legacy Business Relief Grant. Similarly, the Austin Childcare Provider Relief Grant will support both in-home and center-based providers.
A city spokesperson confirmed the qualifications and process for applying will be established "in due course." The actions approved Thursday by council members allow city staff to proceed as outlined in a memo issued Monday.
Where does all this money come from? City staff proposals were revised slightly, landing on these three major sources:
- $8.5 million: Sales tax revenues
- $6 million: Financial Services Department Capital Budget
- $500,000: Building Services Department Capital Budget
Other relief funding sources, mostly proposed by Council Member Kathie Tovo, could come back to the council in the next month to fund a Business Preservation Fund and Live Music Fund. Council Member Greg Casar also asked staff to ensure there is a "fair and inclusive" distribution process, which is laid out to applicants in a transparent manner. City staff said that emphasis is already in place.
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Terry Black’s Barbecue is journeying outside of the smoked meats sphere and into the hospitality sector, announcing plans to open “Friday Mountain,” a resort-style vineyard near Driftwood.
According to a report from the Austin Business Journal, Friday Mountain will be located on 64 acres at 150 Concord Circle, featuring a boutique hotel with 22 rooms, a 14-acre vineyard and a 20,000-square-foot underground wine facility, a spa, event space, all-day café and high-end restaurant. Construction is poised to start in the next month.
The courtyard outside of the event space will echo Hill Country architecture. (Rogers-O'Brien Construction)
Co-owner Mark Black said he expects construction to last about 10 months, hoping for opening early next year, and would hire around 140 employees: 60 full-time and 80 part-time.
The new project has long been in the works for the restaurateurs—including Mark’s twin brother Mike and sister Christina—who come from the same lineage as those behind Lockhart’s Black’s BBQ but separated the business due to a falling out within the family.
Friday Mountain was originally planned to be a wedding venue but issues arising about noise, traffic and environmental concerns led the Dripping Springs City Council to ask for updated plans.
A rendering of the entrance to the planned underground wine cave. (Rogers-O'Brien Construction)
In the new plans, which have since been submitted, Black said he heard the neighborhood's concerns and is focusing on working with the right contractors to avoid issues. Black said he knows not everyone will be on board with the venue but that it will provide a little something for everyone.
To bring the concept to life, Black is partnering with engineers at Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., architects at Lawrence Group, and Rogers-O’Brien Construction Co. Ltd. as the general contractor.
As for the vineyard, Black has partnered with Salt Lick Cellars to have wine aged and ready to drink wine upon opening and will hand off wine making operations to enthusiast Phil Price.
According to a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation filing, the project will cost an estimated $20 million to be completed in January 2023.
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The Texas French Bread Bakery, located on 2900 Rio Grande Street, has been completely destroyed after a fire erupted on Monday night.
The Austin Fire Department responded to the fire just before 11 p.m., where they arrived to see flames coming from the roof of the bakery. Firefighters fought the fire for about an hour before the roof collapsed.
While no one was injured in the fire, firefighters say the historic building was completely totaled.
Texas French Bread just went up in flames pic.twitter.com/agXqKN3c00
— Jordan (@AimIessFriend) January 25, 2022
AFD determined that the fire was accidental and caused by mechanical failure. AFD said the damages amounted to $1.6 million total: $1.1 million in structural damage and $500,000 in damage to the contents of the bakery.
This year, Texas French Bread will celebrate 40 years of business. Before the bakery occupied the building, it was the Rome Inn, a music venue that hosted 1970s artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan.