Southern Exposure

The changing face of the venerable South Lamar Plaza


JUMP to INTRO     < 1 of 18 >

Photo by Jana Birchum

The South Lamar Plaza sign still stands as a demolition crew razes existing structures to make way for redevelopment.

For many, South Lamar Plaza was what was best about South Austin, its iconic sign a neon-wrapped beacon of old-fashioned weirdness. The strip mall was a little run down, sure, and parking could be a minor nightmare, but its mixture of low-rent units and hip entertainment meant stores like the quirky vintage emporium Bitch'in Threads shared an address with the internationally known Alamo South Lamar. Now the institution has gone under the wrecking ball, as property firm Greystar turns the site into a mixed-use development. The project had been on and off again for years, and earlier in 2012 it looked like it was canceled permanently. But by September, Greystar had signed all the necessary paperwork, and the eviction notices went out. In its new incarnation, designed by award-winning local architect Michael Hsu, it will mostly be new tenants who take up its 85-thousand-square-feet of retail space, and that means many of the old tenants have been forced out. Some, like World Spirit Books, are gone forever. Others have relocated, like the Lamar Plaza Drug Store, which moved a couple of blocks south and still serves the same community. Ray Hennig packed up his instruments from Heart of Texas Music and shipped them to his store in Temple. Depending who you ask, this is either the demise of another chunk of Austin's soul, or just another change in a part of town that has always seen companies come and go. After all, it's only been seven years since the Alamo opened its South Lamar location, and now it would be almost impossible to think of the plaza without it. But when a veteran slugger like the South Austin Gym has to take down the ropes and pack up its canvas, it's undoubtedly the end of an era.

Where'd They Go?

Alien Scooters: 5925 Burnet

Austin Vintage Guitars: 6555 Burnet

Austin Yoga: 1608 Dexter

Casa Garcias: nearest location, 1901 W. William Cannon

Lamar Drug Store: 1509 S. Lamar

Ray Hennig's Heart of Texas Music: 808 S. 31st, Temple

South Austin Gym: 5700 Manchaca #365

Suzi's China Grill and Sushi Bar: 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd.

Thundercloud Subs: nearest location, 201 E. Riverside

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

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 South Lamar
A-OK Chinese
A-OK Chinese
More like 'meh'

Kate Thornberry, June 27, 2014

The Taco PUD
The Taco PUD
Zilker neighbors have beef with proposed condo tower

Elizabeth Pagano, March 8, 2013

More Alamo Drafthouse
South Lamar Alamo Cinema Sees a Fight Over Unionization
South Lamar Alamo Cinema Sees a Fight Over Unionization
Drafthouse versus Drafthouse United

Richard Whittaker, July 15, 2022

After the Pandemic at the Alamo Drafthouse
After the Pandemic at the Alamo Drafthouse
New management, new owners: Can the Austin movie chain retain what made it special?

Richard Whittaker, July 2, 2021

More by Richard Whittaker
Review: <i>Disney’s Frozen</i>
Review: Disney’s Frozen
Broadway in Austin brings all Arendelle’s magic to the Bass

June 15, 2024

Memorial Announced for Film Giant Tom Copeland
Memorial Announced for Film Giant Tom Copeland
Former Texas Film Commission head oversaw massive growth in industry

June 13, 2024

More by Jana Birchum
<i>Chronicle</i> Photographers Reflect on Their Most Memorable Photos of the Year
Chronicle Photographers Reflect on Their Most Memorable Photos of the Year
The view from here

Dec. 29, 2023

Michael McCaul’s “Town Hall”
Michael McCaul’s “Town Hall”
Like many of his colleagues, the congressman decided to not show up

March 3, 2017


South Lamar, Alamo Drafthouse, South Lamar Plaza, Ray Hennig, Heart of Texas, Greystar, ThunderCloud, South Austin Gym, Bitch'in Threads, Big Bertha's Bargain Basement

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