Congress Avenue was always meant to be the heart of Austin. Over the last 40 years, it’s destiny as a retail center seems to have slowly slipped away. When the new Marriott replaces Tesoros Trading Company, very little retail will remain.
Today, however, Patagonia — the upscale outdoor clothing company — announced that it will open it’s first store in Texas in a historic downtown building located between 3rd and 4th street on Congress Avenue. This is a bold move for the company and it is great news for Austin. With the opening of a new destination store, the Patagonia announcement should lead more businesses to follow with a Congress Avenue presence.
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. While a handful of restaurants continue to survive, Congress avenue storefronts are more likely to be vacant or filled with offices than utilized for retail or cultural purposes. With the opening of the Austonoan, the Patagonia Store, the new Arthouse and the redevelopment the historic Yaring’s department store on Congress between 5th and 6th into retail and commercial space, there is once again hope that the former glory of our most prominent thoroughfare may be restored.
Here is a summary from the Statesman:
Patagonia, the Ventura, Calif. active clothing and equipment retailer, plans to open its first Texas store at 316 Congress this fall. The 7,000-square-foot store will be the company’s 25th location and will carry outdoor sports and lifestyle products tailored to Austin outdoor activities like trail running, bouldering, paddling and hiking/trekking.The store will open in the historic W.B. Smith Building. The company says it chose Austin as the location for its first foray into the Lonestar State because of the city’s reputation among the healthiest and greenest communities in the country.