Downtown Austin prepares for SXSW crowds, parties



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Posted on March 7, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 7 at 6:21 PM

AUSTIN — Downtown Austin is gearing up for an onslaught of visitors during South by Southwest.

Wednesday crews worked to transform parking spaces into party spaces. Nike is transforming a lot near 4th Street and Colorado into an outdoor basketball court.
The transition means SXSW crowds are about to arrive, and it’s already causing headaches for some Austin drivers.
“I'm 10 minutes late to work trying to find a parking spot on the street. It's just kind of crazy already,” said Austin driver Alastair Winston.
Restaurants are preparing for a rush of customers. New owners remodeled Hickory Street ahead of SXSW. Located at 8th Street and Congress, it’s close to the crowds. Owner Brendan Puthoff estimates business could triple during the festival when private parties go non-stop.
“So we are planning on having staff here 24 hours a day for about eight days of SXSW,” said Puthoff.
Last year, SXSW injected $167 million into the Austin economy, drawing more than 126,000 participants.
One block from the Austin Convention Center Max’s Wine Dive is also gearing up for SXSW. During the Interactive portion, the restaurant will become the CNN Grill for four days.
“We are extremely fortunate to have this location. We are right here in the middle of all the action,” said General Manager Bryan Hantes.
The restaurant will close for remodeling Thursday and re-open Friday to welcome crowds for SXSW Interactive.