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Neighbors hope for midnight closing, no loud music at new bar on Guadalupe

Tuesday, April 18, 2023 by Jo Clifton

City Council gave first reading approval last week for a zoning change for property at 3100 Guadalupe St. that would allow the owners to operate a cocktail lounge on the site after getting a conditional use permit to do so.

Neighbors have a valid petition against the change, with more than 28 percent of surrounding homeowners and businesses signaling their opposition.

According to a description of the property by the city case manager, “The subject rezoning area contains a 1,000-square-foot personal services use within an existing commercial building and an adjacent 2,277-square-foot portion of the parking lot extending to West 31st ½ Street. … The intent is to repurpose the building and an adjacent area for patio seating to the service of onsite alcoholic beverages, which is a cocktail lounge use. As information, a conditional use permit (CUP) for the cocktail lounge will also be required prior to establishing the use.”

Even though they have a sturdy valid petition which would require nine members of Council to approve the zoning change, when the time came for citizens to comment on the case, the only speaker was Jonathan Kini, representing the Heritage Neighborhood Association. Kini asked Council to approve the zoning change on first reading only so that the group could meet and vote on the agreement “in accordance with our bylaws.” He noted that the group had a meeting planned for April 17.

In a letter to the Planning Commission on Jan. 24, attorney Bobby Levinski, who was representing some members of the association, said neighbors wanted a conditional overlay. But the Law Department told Levinski that the conditional overlay was not an option through the zoning process. Neighbors then tried to reach an agreement with the property owner, Levinski said, but the property owner was not willing to sign such an agreement.

In his letter to the commission, Levinski argued that with two Project Connect stops and “a street network that is already walkable and bikeable with relative ease, a use that might conflict with the quality of residential living should take a pause. An action to extend cocktail lounge zoning, without simple constraints to ensure the quality of life for residents along these corridors, is counterproductive to this prioritization of the corridors.”

Because the property owner hasn’t been willing to work with the neighborhood, the group has instead been working with the tenant for a restriction on the hours of operation and a prohibition on amplified sound. Jolene Kiolbassa, president of the neighborhood group, told the Austin Monitor that the tenant had agreed not to have amplified sound and to close the cocktail lounge at midnight.

According to a document provided by Betsy Greenberg, the agreement would provide for the bar to be open from 5 a.m. to midnight, not have amplified sound or a stage, and provide a three-foot-high fence around the outdoor dining areas, including any patio and/or food truck. Amanda Swor with the Drenner Group represents the property owner.

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