The Beginning of a Congress Avenue Comeback

Prior to 1960, Congress avenue was the center of retail and commerce for the City of Austin. Over the last 5 decades, Congress Avenue has been in a steady state of decline as city residents increasingly looked to suburbs for shopping and commerce. Today, there are only 13 retail business on the prime central stretch between the Capital and the lake.

Historic Congress Avenue 1940s
IMAGE: Congress Avenue was the heart of commerce in the 1940s

With the creation of the thriving second street district and the arrival of a new breed of downtown condo residents, Congress avenue may be on the upswing. Over the next few years, the Austonian and a sprawling multi-Marriott complex will link Congress Avenue to the Second street district and the convention center dining district.

Today, a first step towards the revitalization of Congress avenue was announced. After 9 years of closure, the historic Yaring's department store on Congress between 5th and 6th is being redeveloped into retail and commercial space -- bringing new life to a shuttered eye sore on a key downtown block.

Here is the summary from the Statesman:

The historic Yaring's department store on Congress Avenue, which has sat empty for nine years, is getting a dramatic redo.The building at 506 Congress Ave., which was constructed in the late 1880s, is best known for the store Jacob Schmidt opened in 1936. Yaring's, once a pillar of downtown commerce, closed in 1998. A forlorn "For Lease" sign has hung across its pink stucco facade for years.Now, the plan is to renovate it for retail or restaurant use on the first floor and offices on the second and third floors, said Kevin Kimbrough, vice president of Oxford Commercial, which oversees leasing of the building for owner Walter Penn.

Yaring's Department Store Congress Avenue Austin
IMAGE: Yaring's Department Store on Congress Ave to be Redeveloped