A demolition permit filed for a former warehouse that has been home to numerous Downtown Austin businesses is getting some pushback from the city Historic Landmark Commission. Commissioners reviewed but did not sign off on an application for demolition of the building at their October 25 meeting, instead opting to look into a historic landmark designation for the one-story, brick warehouse.
Located at 301 San Jacinto, on the corner of East Third and San Jacinto streets, the structure was built in 1912 for Nalley Grocery Company, according to supporting meeting documents. For most of the past 100-odd years and under various owners, it served primarily as the site of a grocery wholesaler, produce purveyor, and coffee roaster. In 2005 it was the site for a season of the MTV show The Real World: Austin, for which the network employed several local designers and artists to transform the place into a telegenic group home. It’s currently the location of the Vince Young Steakhouse.
Landmark commission staff recommended either postponement of a vote on the demolition permit or initiating historic landmark designation for the building. Primary reasons for the recommendation include that the building is in good condition, that it maintained a consistent identity as a wholesale grocery warehouse for much of its history, and that such businesses worked in tandem with the arrival of the railroad to “[transform] Austin from a settlement to a city,” according to the proposal. The memo also notes that, while it lacks “architectural flourish,” the building is sufficiently emblematic of “a utilitarian structure with few alterations," typical of time and place, to meet the designation’s criteria on that front.
At the same meeting, the commission voted in favor of recommending approval of a demolition permit from the same applicant for a 1938 commercial building at 310 East Third Street, on the same block as and roughly adjacent to the older warehouse.
The applicant objects to the zoning designation for the San Jacinto building and will continue to do so, according to its representative, attorney Richard Suttle. Nevertheless, the commission voted to initiate historic landmark designation for the building and is expected to continue the discussion at its November meeting.