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Rosedale bar expansion elicits neighborhood resistance

Monday, November 27, 2017 by Joseph Caterine

For established neighborhood businesses like the Draught House in North Central Austin, it can be an uphill battle to convince those nearby that expansion does not necessarily mean selling out to the new kids on the block. At its Nov. 14 meeting, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the pub and brewery, a Rosedale neighborhood staple, be permitted to spread to a second story, under the condition that the applicant does not build a second-floor deck.

The Draught House has been operating out of the first floor of 4112 Medical Parkway since 1968. Recently, the dentist office upstairs announced plans to move out, prompting owner Glenda Smith to request a conditional use permit to extend the cocktail lounge use to the entire building. In addition, the applicant has proposed a stairway and elevated patio, which would be surrounded by sound mitigation walls.

Like other community businesses in the urban core, the Draught House relies mostly on off-site parking, especially the medical offices adjacent to the property. Ramping up the bar’s capacity could exacerbate the strain on the neighborhood streets, but agent Katherine Loayza said that typically the flux of patrons does not come anywhere close to filling even the minimum required parking spaces.

Chair Stephen Oliver questioned whether the number of parking spaces available was accurate. He said that he remembered some of his own trips to the pub where he had noticed food trailers occupying the curb next to the patio. “I’m not saying I don’t want those things at places where I hang out, but if we’re counting spaces let’s make sure they’re real,” he said at the meeting.

Several neighbors spoke out against the request, although most were less concerned about the parking and more about the noise. Although the Draught House currently does not allow outdoor music and Loayza said the owner intends to keep it that way, Rosedale resident Robert Doggett suggested that promise should be written into a restrictive covenant with the neighborhood.

Not opposed to a legally binding agreement, Loayza said that the applicant was open to negotiating the specifics of noise control. She admitted that the sound mitigation plans had been drafted under the wire, but she rejected the idea that the pub was prioritizing the tastes of a younger crowd over the concerns of its longtime customer base.

“They are serving a middle-aged population,” Loayza said. “It’s not a trendy cool spot, although perhaps they would like it to be that.”

Commissioner Patricia Seeger said that she recognized the Draught House as an established business and acknowledged how many of those who spoke against the request professed to liking the pub itself, but she said that a deck seemed to cross a line. Commissioner Nuria Zaragoza proposed and passed a recommended compromise of supporting the second-story development without any outdoor attachment. Commissioners Chito Vela, Angela De Hoyos Hart and Tom Nuckols were absent.

Photo by amanda made available through a Creative Commons license.

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