Grand Ole Opry owner buys Texas hotel, music venue

Stratus sells downtown W Hotel, Austin City Limits Live theater

Ryman's Colin Reed and Stratus' Beau Armstrong with Block 21 (Ryman Hospitality Properties, GBCI, Google Maps)
Ryman's Colin Reed and Stratus' Beau Armstrong with Block 21 (Ryman Hospitality Properties, GBCI, Google Maps)

The Nashville company that owns the Grand Ole Opry has purchased a large piece of the Austin music scene. Stratus Properties sold Block 21, site of the W Austin Hotel and Residences and the Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater music venue, to Ryman Hospitality Properties, the Austin Business Journal reported.

It estimated a purchase price of about $260 million, which includes assumption of the existing mortgage debt of around $136 million.The deal closed on May 31.

Stratus agreed to the sale in December of 2019. It was tabled until last October 2021 because of the pandemic. The property includes the 251-room W Austin Hotel, the W Austin Residences, the 2,750-seat theater, 40,000 square feet of offices and 18,000 square feet of retail space.

The music hall has roots in the creation of what would become Austin music’s international brand. Live music show Austin City Limits, which is now filmed there, started as a PBS show in 1974 and is credited with helping shape and promote the city’s burgeoning live-music scene and reputation. The show also inspired the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, which is one of the city’s most-attended events.

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Ryman’s Opry Entertainment Group subsidiary includes the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and Nashville’s Ole Red. “We look forward to working together to bring even more music-focused entertainment to Block 21 in the coming years,” Ryman’s Colin Reed said.

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Stratus also has a storied Austin history. The company and its predecessors FM Properties and mining company Freeport-McMoRan were at the center of landmark local environmental battles involving its residential development activity in Southwest Austin. It eventually developed the Barton Creek, Circle C Ranch and Meridian neighborhoods as well as numerous other projects and has more in the works.

[ABJ] — Cindy Widner