SomeraRoad acquires incomplete retail project in South Austin

New ownership has taken over a South Austin retail project that previously failed to come to life.

Dallas-based Maker Bros. has sold the St. Elmo Public Market at 4329 South Congress Avenue to investment firm SomeraRoad, the Dallas Business Journal reported. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, the property had been marketed with an asking price of $22.5 million.

The property, envisioned as a food and beverage hub similar to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, was listed for sale in July 2022. Maker Bros. initiated the project in 2015, with hopes of it opening in 2018. After falling behind schedule, the pandemic further hindered the development, ultimately resulting in an incomplete project without a single tenant ever occupying space in the building. 

SomeraRoad, known for its involvement in large-scale mixed-use projects, plans to transform the 42,000-square-foot market into a bar and arcade. Pins Mechanical Co. and 16-Bit Bar+Arcade, subsidiaries of Ohio-based Rise Brands, will lease the entire space. Construction is set to commence later this year, with a projected opening in 2024.

The St. Elmo district in South Austin has undergone significant transformation in recent years, evolving from an area dominated by one-story industrial buildings to a burgeoning community. Over 223,000 square feet of commercial space and 2,211 multifamily units have been added to the area since 2016, the outlet reported, citing  an analysis by real estate firm Aquila Commercial. 

An additional 1,776 residential units and 269,000 square feet of commercial space is in the planning stages or under construction in the St. Elmo district. Notable projects on the way include the 275-unit Bishop Momo apartments and the 139-unit Congress Lofts at St. Elmo condo complex, contributing to the district’s increasing density that’s starting to rival areas closer to downtown. 

The blend of creative small businesses in the district, such as Spokesman Coffee, St. Elmo Brewing Company and the Austin Winery, highlights the district’s appeal. The recent sale of the St. Elmo Public Market aligns with the broader trend of growth and development in the neighborhood.

—Quinn Donoghue

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