A piece of history

Abandoned East Austin grocery store faces uncertain future as land tops $1.4 million

Abandoned East Austin store faces uncertain future as land tops $1.4M

Comal Street Store exterior
The Historic Landmark Commission recently recommended parts of the site be considered for historic designation. Photo courtesy of the Austin Historic Landmark Commission

KVUE — It's a building that looks like it has stood the test of time. Austin's Historic Landmark Commission said the red and white East Austin building at 220 E. Comal St., known as the Comal Food Store, was built in 1922 as a grocery store.

A few ownership changes and a century later, it has sat empty on the corner of Third and Comal for years.

"People come by and take pictures of that store all day long," said Charles Clark, who lives nearby and has lived in Austin for decades.

The Historic Landmark Commission said the entire property it sits on is valued at $1.4 million. Recently, the future of the east side building is up in the air.

The commission told KVUE there was an application to partially demolish the building.

"It was an application for partial demolition, but involves the removal of all wall materials, windows, and doors," said Steve Sadowsky, the city's Historic Preservation Officer. "While the applicant proposes a new building on the same footprint, it will be a replica and may not look anything like what is originally there."

Some Austinites, like Clark, say it's becoming common to see old buildings go and new projects coming in.

"You know, they watched things come and go," said Clark.

But the Historic Landmark Commission is stepping in. Recently, the commission recommended the building as a historic landmark.

"The Historic Landmark Commission is recommending that only a portion of the site, i.e. the footprint of the building, as well as a 25-foot buffer around it, be zoned 'historic,'" said Sadowsky. "Therefore, leaving the remainder of the property open for development."

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