Red River Rules

Austin's Red River concert venues can play music even later — for now

Austin's Red River concert venues can play music even later — for now

SXSW 2015 Shoes Migos
Between May and November, outdoor venues in the Red River Cultural District can play music until 1 am. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

Bed time just got pushed back. Austin City Council has approved a temporary extension of the sound curfew for outdoor music venues in the Red River Cultural District. The Mohawk, Cheer Up Charlies, Empire Control Room & Garage, Barracuda, and Stubb's will be able to host concerts until 1 am, one hour late than the current code allows.

An original proposal offered a year-long trial until 1:30 am, but it was changed to 1 am for a six-month session beginning May 1. At the end of the study period, the council will decide on a more permanent solution, weighing the needs of the entertainment district and those of the surrounding neighborhood.

"Among the factors to be measured are the number of sound complaints received via 311, number of citations and documented violations of sound impact plan specifications, the impact on public safety and transportation, mixed beverage tax revenues, and revenues to local musicians," says a recommendation from the Music Commission under the Department of Economic Development.

Noise pollution was the biggest concern from Austinites who opposed the curfew extension. Representatives for Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Express, and the soon-to-open Hyatt House and nearby residents spoke out against the pilot program during Thursday's council meeting.

Those in favor of the extension, including several music industry veterans, argued that measures are already in place to keep noise from carrying too far — not to mention there are significant financial gains at stake with an extra hour of operation.

"There is a tremendous economic impact to increasing hours in our district just for these five locations. We are estimating overall the program will have over $2 million in economic impacts to the local live music industry," said Stephen Sternschein, managing partner at Empire Control Room & Garage.

The council will revisit the issue in October with the option to renew another six-month trial period.