Proposed study on Red River sound curfew will go before council members

Red River St. (KXAN Photo)
Red River St. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Depending on what part of the city you’re heading out to Friday night, the party could shut down earlier than you’d like.

Businesses along Red River Street in downtown want to see if they can keep the music going into the early morning hours. You could call it the Battle of Red River: to stay open past curfew.

The enemy? Rising costs. Bars on the street see a huge potential for being able to stay open later. “Every hour could easily account for an additional $1,000 of revenue per space,” said Cody Cowan, general manager of the Mohawk. “Stubb’s owns the land that it sits on and Empire owns half of its lot. All the rest of us are renters.” He says they’re working seven days a week, adding, “We’ve never had to work as hard as we do.”

City Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee is set to discuss the proposed case study to push back the curfew on Monday. Austin’s Music Commission wrote up a recommendation last month.

The Mohawk is confident of its track record, and now wants to join the ranks of Sixth Street and Warehouse District with the later curfews. “We’d just like to see the same rules apply to us, as the live music district of Austin,” Cowan argued.

That doesn’t sit well with some, who just want the venues to play by the rules. “I shouldn’t be able to hear Stubb’s or the Mohawk or any of those clubs 30 blocks away. In my house. With the windows closed,” Mary Ingle says. “You wake up and there’s bass coming out of your pillow.”

Complaints in the last year within a 600-foot radius of Red River doubled to 24 from 12 the year before. Complaints within a 1,500-foot area shot up from 43 to 159. The city’s music division suspects that new development and the launch of a convenient 311 app contributed to the increase in complaints.

“If this is the last stand of the Alamo, we’re ready to do everything we can,” Cowan promised.

Music Venue Assistance Program

One program the Red River clubs are trying to make use of is the Music Venue Assistance Program. It started in 2012. The Cedar Street Courtyard in the Warehouse District and The Blackheart on Rainey both received loans.

The money went to modifying sound systems, stages and their clubs. The idea behind the program is to keep the sound in the space so only those inside can hear it.

We checked with the city, and four more venues have applied for loans through the program. Two of those are on Red River: Stubb’s and Cheer Up Charlies.