A new verse

Grand Ole Opry owner changes its tune on purchase of famed downtown Austin property

Grand Ole Opry owner changes tune on purchase of famed Austin property

W Austin hotel
Block 21 includes the W Austin hotel and ACL Live at Moody Theater. Photo courtesy of W Austin

The owner of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry plans once again to buy the downtown Austin complex where Austin City Limits is taped.

Nashville-based Ryman Hospitality Properties, whose portfolio includes the Grand Old Opry, said October 26 that it will buy the mixed-use project known as Block 21 for $260 million. Austin-based real estate company Stratus Properties owns the property, highlighted by the 2,750-seat ACL Live at the Moody Theater — home of the long-running Austin City Limits TV show on PBS — and the 251-room W Austin hotel.

The deal is expected to close later this year.

“We remain confident that their experience with entertainment and hospitality properties makes Ryman the right partner for Austin and Block 21. … I am confident that Block 21 will continue to thrive as an Austin icon within the Ryman portfolio,” William “Beau” Armstrong III, chairman and CEO of Stratus, says in a news release.

This is the second time around for Ryman’s proposed purchase of Block 21, an entertainment, hotel, retail, and office project in the Second Street District that Stratus completed in 2010.

In December 2019, Ryman announced it would buy Block 21 for $275 million. But five months later, amid economic uncertainty triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ryman pulled out of the deal. As a result, Ryman paid Stratus a $15 million cancellation fee.

“We are pleased to again have the opportunity to add this one-of-a-kind asset to our growing entertainment portfolio,” Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman, says in a news release.

“Much like Nashville, Austin’s leisure and hospitality industry is recovering and is well-positioned for growth in the years ahead,” Reed adds. “This acquisition allows us to have a meaningful presence in two of the most dynamic music cities in this country and presents many opportunities to showcase the unique music cultures in each city to millions of fans through our Circle TV network.”

Under the deal, an affiliate of Marriott will continue to manage the W Austin.

Ryman’s portfolio includes Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, iconic Nashville radio station WSM 650 AM, the Blake Shelton-inspired Ole Red chain of bars and restaurants, and the Circle country lifestyle media network.

The company also owns the:

  • Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. This project includes the legendary Grand Ole Opry music venue.
  • Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine.
  • Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, near Orlando, Florida.
  • Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, near Washington, D.C.
  • Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, near Denver.