Austin Historic Landmark Commission votes to protect downtown LBGTQ+ bars

The City of Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission has voted unanimously to protect a number of LGBTQ+ bars on downtown 4th Street. 

It comes as the development of a 40-story high-rise building would have taken the place of Coconut Club, Oilcan Harry’s, and Neon Grotto.

The company behind the project is Houston-based Hanover. A representative from the group cited the city’s criteria for historic protection at the commission's meeting on May 4 and argued that the three bars do not meet the standards. Hanover also vowed to reconstruct parts of the demolished buildings.

People in the community say regardless of their promises that the project is a threat to the LGBTQ+ community.

Not every bar was in opposition. Oilcan Harry’s took to social media to ask supporters not to push for landmark identification saying in part:

"We believe our landlord has found a good development partner in Hanover, and their desire is to keep 4th street as a safe space for our community. With that essential requirement in mind and met, we have come to a basic agreement on terms which will allow for our legacy business to continue on in a blend of historic and new."


The apartment building that is set to be built will feature 400 units of living space, retail, and restaurant areas.

By Wednesday, there was a petition with over 4,000 signatures asking for the buildings to be acknowledged as a historic landmark.