AUSTIN-Specialty retailers continue to find homes in the area around Sixth and Lamar streets on the western edge of Austin’s CBD. The continuing growth of the area almost makes it the Downtown retail spot, at least for higher-end, specialty retail.

The newest additions are a furniture store, art gallery and restaurant, which have signed new leases in the area. They are Lemon Grass, a restaurant specializing in Thai cuisine, opening its second location at 601 W. Sixth St. in space formerly occupied by Tocai restaurant; UpCountry, a Toronto-based home furnishings company, putting its first US store in 10,000 sf in the Whit Hanks Building, 1009 W. Sixth St.; and Oswald Gallery, which specializes in fine-art photography, going into 2,876 sf at 500 Lamar Blvd. Eric DeJernett, a broker with NAI/Commercial Industrial Properties Inc., represented the owners.

The area has a growing residential population, fueled by Atlanta-based Post Properties’ apartment complex and one readying to break ground by Phoenix Properties of Dallas. And it draws shoppers from the Downtown office buildings a few blocks away. The Whole Foods Market store at Sixth and Lamar even provides a grocery anchor for the area.

DeJernett says the area is a destination for some shoppers. “They perceive that to be the higher-end clientele,” he says of the retail mix. “It draws (shoppers) from all over town.” He mentioned West Lake Hills, Tarrytown and Northwest Hills. “It also draws tourist traffic,” he says. “So you get people coming in from out of town and this is kind of the only zone there is to shop in if you’re staying at the Four Seasons (hotel).”

The big question mark in the Sixth and Lamar area is the Lamar + Sixth project. The projects includes 260,000 sf of retail with a Target store, specialty shops and movie theater and 150,000 sf of office space. The square block area has been cleared and construction was expected to be under way. However, there is no activity at the site. Representatives of Schlosser Development, the site’s developer, did not return calls to by press time.

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