Page Two

The economy begins to affect local businesses, as the ongoing debate over Sixth Street continues.

Page Two
April is the cruelest month.

The economy had been like a dark storm cloud on the horizon -- looking threatening but yet to hit. But in April (to beat the metaphor to death), everything got drenched. I've been talking to a lot of local business owners recently. The slowing economy has finally started to affect these small businesses -- clubs, restaurants, retail.

The economy's long-term or even short-term outcome is anybody's guess. I hope this downturn is temporary. I fear it won't be, considering our economy flew so high that it may have a while to fall before hitting the ground. Still, watching it impact the businesses that are the economic heart of this community is scary.

It is odd writing about it, especially in this pessimistic way, because clearly that contributes to the problem. The economy is overextended, but the hesitation to spend money that might otherwise be reasonably spent is going to hurt us all. On the other hand, to ignore impending economic problems is foolishness. This paper lives and dies with local businesses. The next few months will be telling.

Sixth Street is a legend. Sixth Street is a destination. Sixth Street is a problem. Sixth Street is a party. Sixth Street is to be avoided. Sixth Street defines Austin. The debate goes on and has for many years. A few decades ago the issue was how run-down Sixth Street was. This environment invited the kinds of businesses (clubs, restaurants) that helped revitalize it. The Chamber of Commerce didn't create Sixth Street; merchants did and still do.

What's next for the area almost always seems to be a question on the council's lips as the street grows and evolves, relatively untended. There are people who see the various cultures on the street as detrimental to each other, but I've always thought of them as complementary. When the street is humming, the disparity of humanity is a vision. But this romanticizing has little to do with the genuine issues facing the area.

Fortunately, Jordan Smith takes a long, serious look at the area ("Who Owns Sixth Street?" p.24), detailing the different issues and perceptions of the street as well as the proposed changes. Don't underestimate Sixth Street's attractiveness to visitors. When friends come to town, I'm always surprised how much they marvel at the street and its vitality. Killing the street to save the street would be the normal modus operandi of government. Let's be careful this time. Any discussion about Sixth Street has to be led by the business owners in the area.

We are approaching our 20th anniversary -- brace yourself for this coming September, when there will be more Chronicle nostalgia than you can possibly stand. And in the meantime, we're in for an interesting summer. We're spending time thinking about the Chronicle -- what it is, what it does, how it does it. This will affect you, the reader, more in practical terms than anything else, meaning you'll see changes rather than read about them.

On the cover of this issue, we plugged the Chronicle's Menu Guide insert. The Menu Guide is almost all ads (with a map and index). Some of the editorial staff thought this violated the church-and-state separation between editorial and advertising. We figured that the Menu Guide was a genuine service to the readers, and we are happy to plug it on the cover. Just wanted to keep you up to date on what is going on here in Whoville. end story

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Page Two
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Page Two: Row My Boat Ashore
Louis Black bids farewell in his final "Page Two" column

Louis Black, Sept. 8, 2017

Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Page Two: The Good Songs We Need to Sing Together and Loud
Celebrating love and resistance at Terry and Jo Harvey Allen's 55th wedding anniversary

Louis Black, July 14, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle