A major new development on South Congress Avenue means several local businesses will soon be forced to relocate. So, what’s next for the iconic Austin corridor?
On a quiet Wednesday morning, a few customers stop in for haircuts and blowouts at Wet Salon and Studio. Co-owner James Haddox said like his clients, his South Congress business has tried on some different looks over the years.
“Over the course of 17 years, the layout and everything has changed quite a bit, and that’s part of what our business is,” Haddox said. “It’s all about change and growing.”
And more change is on the horizon. In a few months, Wet Salon will be moving to make way for a new, mixed-use development. The project’s engineering firm, Big Red Dog, declined to comment. The design firm, Lake Flato Architects, also did not respond to interview requests, but documents filed with the city show the development includes more than 130,000 square feet of office space, retail and restaurants, along with a parking garage.
The property spans five lots on a 1.5-acre stretch of South Congress. It encompasses businesses including Texas National Outfitters, United Apparel Liquidators, Ignite Fitnez and Strut. Next door to Wet Salon, the Sfanthor House of Wax has already closed its doors. Haddox said it’s a shame to see those local merchants go, but he’s focusing on moving forward.
“I truly believe that just like when we came to South Congress 17 years ago, the area that we are planning to move to is going to be the next cool area, and a lot of businesses that are going in there are not new,” he said. “They’re established Austin businesses.”