AUSTIN-A new clothing boutique at the corner of Sixth and Rio Grande streets is the latest addition to the growing number of hip, urban retail shops that are shaping downtown Austin into a booming design district.

Giada has opened at 704 W. Sixth St., two blocks from Lamar and Fifth streets where a high concentration of clothing and home furnishing stores, also known as the West End, are lending the area the unofficial designation as the city’s central design district. Giada occupies 5,000 sf in a freestanding building on the edge of downtown Austin’s constantly expanding borders.

“The demand is so strong for downtown retail that people are trailblazing with what they find,” Eric DeJernett, a retail specialist at NAI/Commercial Industrial Properties Company told “They have to pick up spaces where they can and rely on the general synergy of downtown to make it work.”

The store’s marketing manager, who found the available space, says she knew the location is close enough to the heart of the design district that it wouldn’t be on the periphery for long. “The area between downtown and Clarksville and Swedish Hill is going to be built up in the next few years,” says Dr. Susan Wan Dolling, Giada’s marketing director and designer. “The whole area is going to become a walkabout.”

Already, the store, which features unique women’s clothing, jewelry and designer fabrics, has enjoyed the advantage of foot traffic from nearby offices and a spillover of shoppers from the West End shopping area. “Before we opened, people were knocking on our door wanting to come in,” says Kelly Wacaser, Giada’s assistant manager told “And the busiest time of the day is lunch.”

DeJernett, agrees that Giada, the Italian word for jade, had found a gem when they leased the site. He says matter-of-factly, “If you want to do a hip store, you are going to try to go downtown.

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