A multifamily residential development could be in the cards for the former restaurant and music venue Threadgill’s Old #1 at 6416 North Lamar Boulevard, which closed approximately a year ago — but the new owners hope to preserve part of the original building as a monument to this site’s storied past. That’s the latest from local developers Journeyman Group, which outlined its tentative plans to Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission earlier this week seeking feedback on how to best adapt the property for housing without losing the historic context of the venue.
A potential preservation concept presented to the commission would restore the original building’s facade and overhanging pavilion, linked to a new multifamily building by glass walls which would provide a separation between old and new elements. As seen in the concept rendering above, the overhang section, in keeping with this site’s past, would house a statue of Texan singer-songwriter Janis Joplin — known for her association with the venue and its owner Kenneth Threadgill, who originally opened the business as a filling station in 1933.
As explained in the developer presentation, there are several factors complicating preservation efforts at this site — the original building interior is in poor condition following its closure, with nearly all fixtures and furnishings stripped out by its previous owners prior to the handoff of the property. As part of the terms of purchase, the new owners will have no rights to the Threadgill’s name, which necessitates the removal of all signage and other direct connections to the restaurant and apparently also prevents their use on any subsequent restoration efforts — though it’s unlikely that the famous “Janis sang here” graffiti on the front wall is trademarked.
There are no real details available yet for the scope of Journeyman’s project at this location — recent permit filings previously indicated plans for a mixed-use residential, office, and retail building here, but this latest presentation only describes the development as a multifamily residential building. Anyway, the presentation this week mostly focused on the extent of preservation possible at the site considering its conditions, along with the eclectic, heavily-modified nature of the structure.
We presume these details will be hashed out in time, but the commission was pleased to see these options discussed in lieu of a full demolition. For now, the commissioners passed a unanimous motion to recommend that the applicants continue in the direction of the proposal seen here and work to save as much of the building as possible — sure, they’re not allowed to keep the sign, but it would be nice if the building was still recognizable as Threadgill’s, and that statue wouldn’t hurt either.