Stream Realty wants to clean up Austin’s ‘Dirty Sixth’

East Sixth Street in Austin, long home to street parties, drunken brawls, may get makeover

East Sixth Street in Austin with Armbrust & Brown's Richard Suttle (Google Maps, Armbrust & Brown PLLC)
East Sixth Street in Austin with Armbrust & Brown's Richard Suttle (Google Maps, Armbrust & Brown PLLC)

Austin’s “Dirty Sixth’ may be getting a cleanup.

East Sixth Street, known locally – and not affectionately – as Dirty Sixth, for its rowdy street parties and the detritus they leave behind, would get a remake if a proposal by Stream Realty is approved, according to the Austin Monitor.

Stream acquired dozens of properties along East Sixth during the pandemic when the downtown bar scene was temporarily shut down. Now the firm is looking to make a return on that investment by redesigning the space to welcome a wider variety of businesses and rehabilitate its reputation.

“The folks that have been there a long time are crying out for help,” real estate attorney Richard Suttle told the Historic Landmark Commission. “The police officers are wringing their hands and pulling their hair out, they don’t know what to do. But we all agree we’ve got to change the mixes of uses.”

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Safety concerns on East Sixth have intensified with four high-profile shootings in the past year. Last June, a mass shooting that left 13 injured and 1 dead galvanized passage of the Safer Sixth Street Initiative, which directed staff to develop strategies to mitigate violent crime and underage drinking. The street party effect of the closed businesses attracts underage crowds and facilitates drunken altercations, according to Suttle.

Stream’s plans face a significant hurdle, a 45-foot height limitation dictated by the district’s national historic designation. It would need to be amended to 122 feet in select areas.

“We’re not talking about high-rises here,” Suttle said. “Just a little more space to pay for the infrastructural changes we need on Sixth Street.”

While the project is still under development, landmark commissioners can expect to see a code amendment request to address height limits hit their desks in the next few months, Suttle told the commission. After that, Stream plans to roll out certificates of appropriateness and partial demolition applications to make way for new structures.

“We think we can do this aesthetically pleasing and historically accurate,” Suttle added. “But without change, we’re going to be destined to have the same problems, and more people will be killed or injured … we have to do something radical.”

[Austin Monitor] — Maddy Sperling