Hotel to be built in place of beloved South Congress food trailers

The days of the South Congress food trailers are soon coming to an end. Since the trailers’ leases did not get renewed, the trailers have to vacate the lot between East Monroe and East Milton streets in less than four months by March 2013. 

To replace the beloved eateries, a three story, 82,000 square-foot hotel will be built, according to KVUE. The hotel will include an underground parking garage and restaurants. The construction of this hotel could potentially bring millions of dollars to Austin’s economy and create jobs, but at the cost of some of the very things that make Austin great.

The food trailers have some of the best food on South Congress with affordable prices and a wide selection. They have only been on South Congress for around three years, but they are already well-loved, and they draw in plenty of business. The food trailers were even included in one of AT&T’s recent national ad campaigns, according to Culture Map Austin.

On top of being successful businesses, the South Congress food trailers have a classic Austin vibe. They are a bit weird and quirky, but that suits Austin perfectly – especially South Congress, which is already a wonderfully eclectic mixture of shops, restaurants and various street merchants.

It is hard to imagine South Congress without these trailers, and it is even harder to imagine a big hotel in their place. It just does not seem to fit the spirit of South Congress.

However, moving the trailers and building a hotel brings up practical issues. For one, what about First Thursday?

The lot between Monroe and Milton is an important venue for the artists and craftspeople who sell their wares at First Thursdays. It is unclear where the merchants will go once construction on the lot begins.

The space behind the trailers also offers a sizable amount of parking, and while it does cost money on the weekends, parking there is free during the week. Although the hotel plans are said to include underground parking, chances are it will not offer free parking for South Congress patrons.  

Furthermore, the construction will hinder traffic and create a lot of noise in a pedestrian-heavy and resident-heavy area. Most people can all agree that construction can be a real pain, and it always seems to last forever. 

If this is about really beefing up Austin’s tourism industry, throwing out a well-loved, budding landmark in favor of a new hotel seems ignorant. 

Austin’s tourism industry is growing and will likely continue to grow as events like ACL and SXSW become increasingly popular, so more hotels will be needed. However, these hotels should not be constructed at the expense of the things that make Austin such an awesome and unique place.

People come to Austin for the uncanny vibes. If those things start disappearing, the essence of what makes Austin special will be ruined.