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The Regulars

The ever-changing face of the Drag

5/19/2003 10:12 PM

By: Doug Shupe

Folks passing by The University of Texas on Guadalupe Street may notice some changes. Some well-known stores are gone and at least one familiar watering hole has reopened.

These changes are part of the constantly evolving area known as the Drag.

People are toasting at The Hole in the Wall. The live music landmark that closed last June due to financial problems re-opened this week to the relief of many customers.

"The places like the Hole in the Wall that aren't going to change that gets to stay the same -- that makes a lot of people comfortable," owner Clay McLaughlin said.

The Gap clothing store recently closed after more than 17 years at the location on Guadalupe and 24th streets. CC's Coffeehouse is gone as well as the Aveda Concept salon.

Empty spaces and "For Lease" signs hang on several other window fronts. Although some stores have closed, new ones are opening.

The Drag is always evolving.

"It changes, but it stays the same, too, in the sense that it's lively and walkable. You can walk up and down the street, find stuff you want to eat and stuff you want to have," Cathy Norman, with University Area Partners, said. A new mural  

There are always new things to see as well. For example, the same three artists who painted an Austin mural in 1974 are now working on a mural of the state of Texas.

"We're definitely changing the look of the Drag. This was just an ugly wall that no one remembers, but now it is going to be a beautiful mural," artist Kerry Awn said.

The future holds even more changes for this area. Neighborhood leaders said they plan on making improvements that will make walking the Drag even safer.

"We're going to widen the sidewalk a little bit in some places. There are going to be street trees and if you've ever walked the Drag in the summer that's a good thing. It's too hot here, it's too sunny and pedestrian lighting -- more light at night," Norman said.

And soon Austin police will man a substation on the Drag.

New improvements, new retail stores and new faces will fill the Drag.

Real estate agents said the "For Lease" signs on the Drag won't be up for long. They said some businesses have already leased the spaces. The rest should be leased by September.

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