AUSTIN -- On South Congress it's out with the old and in with the new. Those who've watched the street develop say it's handling its growth spurt well.
In decades past, no one had a clue that the street south of the river would become a bustling pedestrian hot spot. These days, hordes of tourists and those living in Austin fill the sidewalks.
Over the years the store fronts have changed. The vibe in what some now call "SoCo" is different as well.
“Terra Toys was quite the fixture here,” said Gail Armstrong who owns Off The Wall, a thrift store on South Congress. “They were a large draw for our block.”
“When we opened here in ‘93, you were as likely to see a hooker walking down the sidewalk as you were to see good customers,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong believes change is good.
“Traffic is up, business is up, the variety of shopping experience along the avenue is up as well,” he said.
He thinks a boutique hotel that will soon be constructed in a lot that once housed food trailers will bring in even more customers.
“We'll see a nice addition with the hotel across the street,” Armstrong said. “When that's finished it will also add some very much needed parking in the area. That's one of the biggest problems we face these days.”
But with all the growth going on, some like Mike Oldstein and Alex Garza say bigger isn't always better.
“I think it's a great place to spend the afternoon, walk around, enjoy the shops, some food and just the culture of Austin,” Oldstein said.
“I definitely think if it grows too much it will be definitely be over done. I like the quaintness of it,” Garza.
The three-story hotel is scheduled to open in the heart of SoCo sometime next year.