Wal-Mart Invasion

Wal-Mart company buys prime property on East Sixth Street

Wal-Mart company buys prime property on East Sixth Street

Austin Photo Set: News_Leah Moss_Nuevo Leon_July 2011_exterior
The former Nuevo Leon restaurant which closed in March 2013. Photo by Leah Moss
Austin Photo Set: News_Leah Moss_Nuevo Leon_July 2011_entrance
Patrons at the former Nuevo Leon. The site of the restaurant was recently purchased by WPC LCC, a subsidary of Wal-Mart. Photo by Leah Moss
Austin Photo Set: News_Leah Moss_Nuevo Leon_July 2011_exterior
Austin Photo Set: News_Leah Moss_Nuevo Leon_July 2011_entrance

Well, there goes the neighborhood. Anyone walking down East Sixth Street lately has already noticed a change, but the newest development could be the biggest yet. 

The grassy knoll that used to host the Don't Mess With Texas event during SXSW is now a giant hole awaiting foundation for a large apartment building. The Tejano bars that once lined the street with neon Pearl Beer signs in the windows, are gone. At Whisler's, the newest addition to East Sixth, you can now sip $12 cocktails under the watchful gaze of Cesar Chavez, whose painted portrait serves as a constant reminder that up until very recently, this was a very different neighborhood.

 While the gentrification of the east side is documented to the point of being tiresome, it may be about to reach its tipping point. 

While the gentrification of the east side is documented to the point of being tiresome, it may be about to reach its tipping point.

The Austin Chronicle is reporting that the 1.8 acre tract of land that was the home of the now shuttered Nuevo Leon restaurant has been purchased by WPC LLC, a subsidiary of Walton Enterprises which is, you guessed it, the owner of Wal-Mart.

Nuevo Leon, which operated for more than three decades in East Austin and became a cornerstone of the community, closed in March due to costs. The site currently sits across from the Volstead Lounge and the Hotel Vegas.

Details are scant, but the Chronicle points to a rumor that the company may build a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, a smaller version of their big box super store. Reporter Amy Smith also wrote that, considering current trends, it may just turn into another apartment building.

Regardless of what WPC LLC does with the former Nuevo Leon, it will undoubtedly be met with criticism. Watching a Latina-owned, family-operated restaurant turn into anything owned by Wal-Mart is a tough development in our city's growing pains. Save money, sure. Live better? Probably not.