Austin City Council passes resolution to prevent adult businesses from moving in downtown

A proposed strip club in downtown Austin will have new challenges to overcome before moving in on Congress Avenue thanks to a resolution passed by City Council Thursday.

The proposed location of the new adult oriented business is 422 Congress Avenue.

"This is close to the Capitol, the governor's mansion is right around the corner, this is our city and downtown is the living room of our city and we want the best," said executive director of the Mexic-Arte Museum Sylvia Orozco.

When Orozco found out a strip club could be moving in next door, she thought about how the new business could be the worst thing to happen to the museum.

"You can almost touch it it's so close," said Orozco. "We have students that are here during the day and during the evening we have interns from University of Texas, also from high schools," said Orozco.

The Downtown Austin Alliance that represents property owners in the area said they have had numerous calls from concerned business owners on Congress Avenue.

"We just don't see it as part of the vision for Congress Avenue. It just doesn't fit the mix of the retail strategy that we have," said associate director of the Downtown Austin Alliance Molly Alexander.

After looking into the proposal, city leaders found out there was a loophole that allowed a strip club to move in downtown as long as it wasn't near a school, church, park, playground or day-care facility.

"Our code at this point has adult oriented businesses as permitted uses in those zoning categories, which are throughout downtown," said Austin Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo.

That means the adult oriented business owners would not have to go before the Planning Commission for approval.

Thursday, City Council took the first step to change that. Council passed a resolution to re-write city code. Included in the rewrite is an amendment to make adult oriented businesses conditional use in the downtown area meaning they would have the go before the Planning Commission.

The new code will also prohibit adult businesses from moving within 1,000 feet of certain properties that children might frequent.

"Museums and libraries, I believe, should be added to that list because they too have large groups of children passing through them," said Tovo.

The amended city code could be a little too late for the proposed strip club at 422 Congress Avenue.

"That particular business is in close proximity to a museum and some parks and so depending where that is in the process that could pose some challenges if those are incorporated in the ordinance that comes back to council," said Tovo.

The new code will prevent other adult businesses from moving in downtown. Tovo says the new code will not be retroactive.