A new world

Real estate mogul gears up for tune-up of iconic Austin music venue

Real estate mogul gears up for tune-up of iconic Austin music venue

Gary Keller Keller Williams
Co-founder and executive chairman of Keller Williams, Gary Keller is also the co-founder of music advocacy group Austin Music Movement. Keller Williams Realty/Facebook

Residential real estate mogul and music patron Gary Keller has rescued another iconic music venue in Austin.

Keller — co-founder and executive chairman of Austin-based Keller Williams, now the world’s largest residential real estate company — recently purchased the Tuscan-style One World Theatre in West Austin.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue hasn’t hosted many shows or events since 2020. In fact, One World Theatre has been closed since February. Nick Shuley, executive director of Austin Music Movement, Keller’s music advocacy group, says plans are underway to reopen the venue, but details aren’t available yet.

“Gary’s and the Austin Music Movement’s efforts have always centered around music preservation and economic growth in the music industry, and this will be no different,” Shuley tells CultureMap.

Keller’s September 2021 purchase of One World Theatre follows his 2016 rescue of the South Austin building that houses Saxon Pub, a longtime fixture in the local music scene.

“Gary has always believed in preserving music in Austin,” Shuley says. “Much like his effort in purchasing the property that Saxon Pub occupies, Gary wants to ensure that live music always has a home in Austin.”

Founded by husband-and-wife team Hartt and Nada Stearns, One World Theatre opened in 1999 at 7701 Bee Caves Rd. Hartt Stearns acquired 100 percent ownership of the venue in 2007.

Among the eclectic acts that have taken the stage at the 300-seat concert venue are Michael McDonald, Sérgio Mendes, the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Ambrosia, Herbie Hancock, and Jose Feliciano. Music genres represented by performers there include jazz, folk, pop, country, and classical.

Aside from hosting an array of cultural arts performances, the venue has welcomed weddings and other events.

In the spring of 2021, speculation swirled that Austin comedian and mega-podcaster Joe Rogan planned to buy One World Theatre and convert it into a comedy club. However, no such deal ever materialized. Rogan now is tied to the proposed conversion of Alamo Drafthouse’s now-shuttered Ritz Theater on East Sixth Street into a comedy venue.