Big news for fans of live music: The Saxon Pub has abandoned plans to relocate and will stay put on South Lamar Boulevard, owner Joe Ables confirms with CultureMap.
"My family, my staff, we're all ecstatic," says Ables. "They're proud that people respect them so much. It's because they worked so hard — my staff, my wife, my daughter (she books the Saxon Pub) — that we can stay here."
Ables, who has run the club for over two decades (an earlier version existed in the late '70s on the service road of I-35 near 38th Street), originally planned to move the Saxon Pub to Saint Elmo Market District, a massive marketplace being developed in South Austin. In that scenario, the space at 1320 S. Lamar Blvd. was being considered for a more modern sister venue.
So what changed? Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty is in talks to purchase the property that houses the original Saxon Pub, which also includes Abbey Printing. The land is valued at $1.5 million, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District. As the founder of All ATX, a local nonprofit promoting music education, outreach, and fundraising for other charities that support musicians, Keller is invested in preserving Saxon Pub's roots on South Lamar.
"The Saxon Pub is a venue that is near and dear to my heart, to many Austinites, and to the city's music DNA. I'm very excited to be a part of something that allows such a historic venue to stay in its current location," says Keller in a statement.
"I listen to [Keller] and I can hear the passion he has for iconic things in Austin," says Ables. "Austin is very luck to have Gary Keller."
The team plans to put a little more money into the Saxon Pub, or, as Ables puts it, "make this thing a little shiny." Any updates will occur next year at the earliest, after the deal has closed.
As for Saint Elmo and Ables' dream to open another club, Ables and developer Brandon Bolin are continuing talks of opening a venue in the South Austin market.
The proposed move was never a response to pressure. "We're not being bought out or forced out," Ables told CultureMap in 2014. "[Saint Elmo is] just a very interesting project to take a long-term look at. There will always be a Saxon Pub."
For now, the Austin music icon will live on at its storied South Lamar home.