Friday, August 12, 2022 by Marisa Charpentier, KUT

Because the beloved submit workplace in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood shuttered in June 2021, neighbors have questioned what’s going to turn out to be of the spot on the nook of forty third Avenue and Speedway. The one-story brick constructing has remained vacant since its closure, serving as little greater than a canvas for graffiti.

However new particulars are coming to gentle about its future. The 55-year-old construction will likely be renovated and subdivided into retail and restaurant area. Two tenants, Tiny Grocer and First Gentle Books, have confirmed they’ll be opening up store there subsequent 12 months.

“I like that neighborhood,” mentioned Steph Steele, proprietor of the native market Tiny Grocer. “Hyde Park was all the time on my listing of the place I feel (this retailer) would do effectively and be effectively acquired and serve the group in an effective way.”

Positioned in Central Austin, Hyde Park is taken into account to be the town’s oldest suburb. It accommodates many historic properties, small house complexes, an previous hearth station, the Elisabet Ney Museum and a few native eateries, like Quack’s forty third Avenue Bakery and Julio’s Cafe. When it was introduced early final 12 months that the long-running submit workplace on Speedway can be closing, issues – and gossip – started swirling via the neighborhood, as residents feared dropping a walkable useful resource that contributed to the realm’s quaint really feel. The U.S. Postal Service had been leasing the constructing, and when it vacated, the property proprietor mentioned he didn’t have one other tenant lined up.

However now development is underway, and no less than two companies have signed leases for the area. Tiny Grocer is a boutique meals retailer and cafe that opened on South Congress early final 12 months. The Hyde Park spot, which is slated to open within the first half of 2023, would be the enterprise’ second location.

Steele mentioned the brand new retailer will supply objects she handpicks herself, together with beer and wine, domestically made merchandise, produce and extra. The kitchen will serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads and burgers. Brunch will likely be served on the weekends. Clients may also be capable to order beer and wine by the glass, espresso, pastries and vegan delicate serve from a standalone bar space.

There will likely be indoor and outside seating, with a part of the previous submit workplace’s loading dock turning right into a patio. Steele mentioned she envisions Tiny Grocer as a gathering area for the walkable neighborhood.

“I think about women having a chunk of cake and a glass of wine and catching up,” Steele mentioned. “I think about folks shopping for periodicals on the bookstore and sitting and having fun with a breakfast merchandise or a cup of espresso.”

The market’s new neighbor, First Gentle Books, is being spearheaded by husband-and-wife group Taylor and Robin Bruce. Taylor Bruce is thought within the literature world for founding Wildsam Area Guides, an impartial writer that produces journey guidebooks. However First Gentle is a brand new enterprise, and the Hyde Park spot will likely be its first location.

“It’s been on my thoughts for a very long time, sort of a dream to have a small impartial bookstore,” Taylor Bruce mentioned. “We began actually considering significantly about it in all probability two years in the past and felt like a neighborhood bookstore was vital in our thoughts, a spot that was very walkable and really community-based.”

When he noticed the submit workplace in Hyde Park was closing final 12 months, he thought the area can be the proper location, so he reached out to the proprietor and finally signed a lease. He mentioned the buildout will start in September, and the shop will ideally be open by March.

Bruce describes the shop as a traditional, all-purpose bookstore. The two,500-square-foot area will carry a curated collection of fiction and nonfiction titles, cookbooks, artwork books and extra. There will likely be a restaurant within the retailer as effectively, serving espresso, beer, wine and snacks.

“First Gentle, the identify, kind of calls to the sensation of early mornings and the environment of the early morning,” Bruce mentioned. “The espresso window will likely be open brilliant and early, in all probability the earliest place in Austin to get a very good cup of espresso.”

Two different areas will likely be leased out of the submit workplace, in line with city documents, however these companies have but to be introduced. KUT reached out to Blake Thompson, the proprietor of the property, for remark however didn’t hear again.

Thompson additionally owns the parking zone throughout Speedway, which he’s trying to rezone to construct small cottages for business use. He advised the neighborhood, as recounted in Hyde Parker Magazine in March, that the cottages could possibly be used for meals service, a yoga studio or an artwork gallery on the primary ground and probably be residential on the second. The rezoning would require approval from Metropolis Council. Many close by residents have signed a petition or written to the city opposing the change, urging Council to maintain the property’s zoning residential as Austin faces a housing disaster.

The adjustments coming to the submit workplace property, although, had been welcome information to residents like Joan Yamini, who has lived in Hyde Park for about twenty years. However, she says, she nonetheless misses the submit workplace.

“If I had to decide on, I feel I’d maintain the submit workplace,” Yamini mentioned. “However that is in all probability the following smartest thing.”

The submit workplace had been a kind of group area, a spot the place neighbors would stumble upon one another whereas dropping off a bundle or shopping for stamps. Yamini mentioned she sees this new enterprise as one other alternative for that.

“Up on the nook the place all of the eating places are, there are all the time folks strolling there and working into one another,” she mentioned. “I’m positive the Tiny Grocer will present one more nook to run into folks on, which is good.”

One other Hyde Park resident, Susi Spies, mentioned she worries what affect a brand new grocer can have on the longtime native grocery retailer within the neighborhood, Recent Plus. She mentioned quite a lot of residents have relied on Recent Plus, particularly in the course of the pandemic, and he or she doesn’t suppose one other grocery retailer is basically wanted.

“I simply hate to see the previous guys lose out once they’re doing a very good job and serving the neighborhood,” Spies mentioned.

Spies, too, mentioned she misses the submit workplace. The following closest one is on Lamar, however Spies mentioned for the reason that closure of the Hyde Park location, it’s been overrun and sometimes has lengthy strains. She mentioned she hopes the proprietor of the Hyde Park property places in a small storefront submit workplace. That concept had been bounced round at a Hyde Park Neighborhood Affiliation assembly final 12 months, however it’s unclear if that may really occur.

The brand new enterprise homeowners, although, say they may commemorate the area’s historical past as a longtime submit workplace ultimately.

“There’s something up my sleeve, however I’m not likely speaking about it,” Steele mentioned. “I’ll simply say I hope to do one thing that’s just a little nod to the neighborhood of what it was.”

Picture caption: Building is underway on the former submit workplace on forty third Avenue and Speedway in Hyde Park.

This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made doable by donations from the group. Although our reporting covers donors once in a while, we’re cautious to maintain enterprise and editorial efforts separate whereas sustaining transparency. A whole listing of donors is out there here, and our code of ethics is defined here.

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