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A new era: Last home on Rainey Street to be demolished
71 Rainey Street was last home on the street left untouched. John Contreras lived in the house for 30 years. (Google Maps)

The final residential house on Rainey Street—once a quaint neighborhood and now a boozy strip on the National Register of Historic Places—has been cleared for demolition by the Historic Landmark Commission "due to life safety concerns."

The home, located at 71 Rainey Street, had been in the family of John Contreras, also known as the "last man on Rainey Street," since the 1940s. Contreras lived there on and off as a child and then from 1989 to September 2019 until he sold the property, tired of living among the chaos of modern Rainey Street.

While most of the homes on the street have been restored to open as businesses, Contreras's home fell into disrepair and received code violations for lack of general maintenance and structural integrity after he sold.

The house leans to one side due to disrepair and old age. (City of Austin)

The house was listed for $2.65 million and sold for an undisclosed increase a few months later, according to KUT. Contreras said he sold the home to Bob Woody, who owns several bars including Blind Pig Pub and Shakespeare's on 6th Street. Woody told him he intended to turn it into another bar.

Rainey Street District has been in a constant cycle of change for several years. It was first rezoned as part of Austin's central business district in 2005, and despite its classification as a historic area, some of the bars on the strip have been threatened by even newer developments.

It was rumored that bars Javelina and Craft Pride might be displaced for construction of a new apartment highrise, River Street Residences, in October 2020, which may be in the works. Deed history from the Travis County Appraisal District shows both bars were signed over to River Street Partners LLC on April 12, 2021.

Similarly, bar Lustre Pearl was displaced from the corner of Driskill Street for Camden Rainey Street Apartments in 2014. The bar reopened a second location across from Rainey Street in 2016.

It's safe to say, Rainey Street is not done changing yet.


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