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Freedmen’s Will Be Surrounded by Student Housing

The barbecue restaurant’s West Campus block will look different

Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

It looks like essential barbecue restaurant Freedmen’s will be enwrapped by student housing in the future. An eight-story, 156-unit development on San Gabriel Street was approved by Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission this week.

Given its historic status of the Freedmen’s physical building, the new housing will not touch the barbecue structure. Instead, it will sit in a planned courtyard with buffers on all sides. The Landmark Comission recommends that the new building is done in stone for “greater differentiation," and that the proposed amenity center is reduced to “further articulate the historic building.”

Real estate blog Towers pointed out this makes it the structure seem like a nail house, a name for buildings stubbornly left standing as huge developments surround them.

Freedmen’s building was built in 1869 by freed slave George Franklin. From 1875 to 1898 was home to Reverend Jacob Fontaine, who founded one of the country’s first black newspapers. It was also known as the Franzetti Store building, as the family ran an Italian grocery store there in the 1920s.

The new housing development is a collaboration between Johnson Trube & Associates and Mark Hart Architecture, which also worked together on nearby mixed-use building The Corner.

South Lamar honky-tonk bar Broken Spoke was in a similar quandary a few years ago, as a $60 million mixed-use development shot up around it. For the most part, it seems to have emerged unscathed.


2402 San Gabriel Street, , TX 78705 (512) 220-0953 Visit Website