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The future of South Congress Avenue and South First Street

As new developments come into the popular corridor, bringing new homes and jobs, some say the changing landscape is causing longtime businesses to close.

Luis de Leon

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Published: 6:09 PM CST December 16, 2020
Updated: 10:31 AM CST December 17, 2020

South Congress Avenue has long been known for its colorful and eclectic "mom-and-pop" shops all across the popular strip known for keeping Austin weird.

But ask any longtime Austinite and they will tell you that the area has seen quite a bit of change over the years. 

"One trend that we're really noticing is a tip toward more upscale businesses and boutiques," said Brandon Hodge, the owner of Big Top Candy Shop on South Congress. "You'll notice it's a little harder to get a cheap burger down here, but a lot easier to get a, you know, a gourmet burger."

Meanwhile, developers say they're bringing jobs and mixed-use developments that fit the fabric of these longtime communities, hoping to work in unison with the old and the new. 

"Our goal is that the community sees Music Lane as just an extension of the South Congress that we all know and love," said Taylor Shepherd, the communications and engagement manager for Endeavor Real Estate Group, the property manager for the Music Lane development. 

One of the ways Music Lane is efforting that goal is through The SoCo Stroll, a month-long initiative to encourage people to shop local on South Congress during the holidays. They say they partnered with the South Congress Avenue Shopping District.

It's the same story over on South First Street, where multiple new mixed-use developments are nearing completion. 

KVUE wanted to show some of what's being developed in the area, as well as talk to some local shops about how they're adjusting to these changes.