Naked City

Cedar Door Migrates South for Winter

Saturday night will mark the last call for the Cedar Door -- on East Cesar Chavez, that is. Next stop: South Austin. Fortunately, the little bar that has stood ground on a peaceful patch of earth (save for the rumble of the train) for eight years is well equipped for mobility. The bar has maintained its reflectors from its last move from the Convention Center site, where it relocated after getting bumped from its former 15th St. location. This time, the Cedar Door will head south of the river to lay stakes under the trees at the Shady Grove RV Park, between Barton Springs and Toomey roads.

"It's such a sweet Austin institution, it belongs in South Austin," said Susan Toomey Frost, whose family has owned the RV land since 1922. Toomey Frost was one of a trio of women, along with Mary Arnold and Roberta Crenshaw, who sued the city of Austin in 1984 over proposed development of the Lumbermen's tract that Cedar Door leased. The legal battle has since been settled, although the property and what may someday stand there remains controversial.

No one seems to understand Lumbermen's rush to evict Cedar Door from the site, since the company recently lost its bid to build a 180-foot condo tower on the property. "I have no comment on that," said Lumbermen's attorney Jay Hailey. "We kept extending the lease to accommodate the Cedar Door, but the lease is up. It's being terminated." Does Lumbermen's have immediate plans for the Cedar Door site? "No comment," Hailey said again.

Although Council narrowly rejected Lumbermen's tower proposal, another portion of the development company's property is zoned for a 220-foot office building. No word yet on whether Lumbermen's intends to wait out the economic slump before fiddling with that notion.

Cedar Door owner Gus Koerner had originally planned to move his bar just east of I-35, where it would have offered a nifty view of downtown from its hilltop perch at Sixth and Brushy. But the site needed extensive retrofitting and infrastructure work, the cost of which, said Koerner, "finally got out of the range of bankability." That's when Koerner and Toomey Frost began talking. "We've got the same vision for what we want to accomplish," Koerner said, "and at least I'll have a place to park [the bar] while I go through the permitting process with the city." If all goes as planned, Koerner said the Cedar Door could reopen by March 1.

Meantime, Koerner will prepare for moving day, the early morning hours of Nov. 20. Will the Shady Grove RV Park be the Cedar Door's last stop? "It'll be my last stop," said Koerner. "But my kids might be moving it again."

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Cedar Door, Shady Grove RV Park, Susan Toomey Frost, Mary Arnold, Roberta Crenshaw, Lumbermen's, Jay Hailey, Gus Koerner

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