A new chord

Famed downtown Austin property plucked by Nashville company in $275 million deal

Famed downtown Austin property plucked by Nashville company for $275M

W Austin Hotel exterior
Block 21, which houses the W Austin and ACL Live at the Moody Theater, has been sold. W Austin/Facebook

The high-profile downtown Austin development anchored by the W Austin and ACL Live at the Moody Theater is getting a new owner. In a $275 million deal, Austin-based real estate company Stratus Properties Inc. agreed December 9 to sell the property, known as Block 21, to Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc.

Ryman, a lodging, entertainment, and media conglomerate, is known primarily as owner and operator of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, as well as the Gaylord chain of hotels and resorts. The Block 21 deal includes $133 million in cash plus assumption of $142 million in mortgage debt and is expected to close in early 2020. 

“Block 21 is a one-of-a-kind asset anchored by a world-class theater in one of the most vibrant and culturally significant music destinations in the country,” Colin Reed, chairman and CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, says in a December 9 release. “We believe ACL Live, along with the entire Block 21 complex, is a natural complement to our portfolio of iconic entertainment and media assets.”

Reed says his company’s Circle concept, a country music TV network set to launch early next year, will position Austin and Block 21 as a “must-visit destination” for country music fans. At the outset, programming from the network will air on TV stations owned by Atlanta-based Gray Television Inc. In Texas, Gray owns TV stations in Amarillo, Bryan-College Station, Laredo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, Sherman, Tyler, Waco, and Wichita Falls.

Aside from the 251-room W Austin and Austin City Limits Live at the 2,750-seat Moody Theater, Block 21 features office and retail space, along with the 350-seat 3TEN at ACL Live entertainment venue.

“Block 21 is the premier asset in the heart of Austin’s Second Street District,” says Mike Rotchford, vice chairman of real estate services provider Savills Inc., which represented Stratus in the deal. “It is the best asset in the most exciting growth location in America. It’s not often that sites like this are marketed … .”

More than 100 potential buyers from the U.S. and abroad initially expressed in the mixed-use development. Beau Armstrong, chairman, president, and CEO of Stratus, says in a December 13 release that Savills wound up fielding bids from “several high-profile suitors.”

“Ryman Hospitality Properties is a great company that understands and respects the strong connection that exists between Austin and its music scene,” Armstrong says in a December 9 release. “We think Ryman Hospitality Properties’ expertise in both hospitality and live entertainment, plus their demonstrated stewardship of the iconic Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry, make them the ideal company to usher Block 21 and ACL Live into their next decade.”