The Austin trio plans an ice house in downtown San Antonio, a live music scene

An ice house and live music venue, to be called the River North Ice House, is planned for 317 W. Jones Ave., across the street from the north end of the San Antonio Museum of Art at 200 W. Jones.

Sam Owens/Staff Photographer

Developer David Adelman is partnering with a trio of Austin entrepreneurs to open an ice house with an indoor music stage in North Downtown across from the San Antonio Museum of Art.

The facility, which will be known as the River North Ice House, will be in the former home of Texas Custom Seating Inc. at 317 W. Jones Ave., said Philip Massari, partner in the deal and director of real estate at AREA Real Estate, Adelman’s development firm. It will feature live music several days a week, a beer garden-style area and a food truck spot.

AREA bought the 0.36-acre property for an undisclosed price on Dec. 5, Bexar County property records show. Repair work should begin in the next few weeks, Massari said. An opening date has not been set, but AREA and its partners are aiming for April.

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Austin business partners Seth Klein, Eric Thomas and Tripp Watson — known for running Austin bars including Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Icehouse — have signed a lease with AREA to open the ice house, Massari said. AREA is also making a capital investment in the business, he said.

The plans add momentum to the already rapid growth of north downtown, also known as River North, where several developers have invested or are poised to invest tens of millions of dollars to capitalize on the growth of nearby Pearl and the popularity of Museum Reach. on the River Walk.

“We really see River North as being transformative in this live work-play environment,” Massari said. “It’s one of the few areas in the city that’s really walkable.”

Other projects

The McCombs plan to build a large mixed-use development on a 6-acre property they purchased in January from CPS Energy just down the street from where the ice house will be. The McCombs organization did not release details, but said the development would be comparable to Pearl. A conceptual plan obtained by the Express-News through an open records request shows plans include a 6-story building with 179 apartments and retail space wrapped around a parking garage. There is also a 13-story building with 146 apartments and commercial spaces, a hotel and a 4-story office building.

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Adelman and AREA already own 10 or 11 assets in the area, Massari said, including Elsewhere Garden Bar & Kitchen on the River Walk and an adjacent mixed-use building that is home to Commonwealth Coffeehouse & Bakery and architecture firm Overland Partners. The firm built the Midtown Station shopping complex on St. Mary’s Street just north of Interstate 35 on the border between downtown and the Tobin Hill neighborhood.

AREA is also renovating a prominent historic building at the intersection of Broadway and Jones, where it plans to lease space for five or six retail tenants, he said.

Several other developers are working on projects in the area. A few blocks south of Broadway, a partnership between local developer Hixon Properties and the Cavender automotive family is working on a long-term project to more or less build an entire neighborhood from scratch. As part of it, they recently opened Make Ready Market behind their innovative Soto office building.

A bar and dog park called Hops & Hounds is expected to open soon on land owned by Hixon on the River Walk.

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Austin surge

Massari pointed out that nearly 3,000 apartments have been built within a half-mile of the Ice House property, but there are few food and beverage options in the area.

“We’re really looking to really transform this neighborhood and bring in more retail, apartments and amenities,” he said. “It was a pretty significant acquisition in that sense to continue to scale and bring in concepts that we really think the neighborhood needs that don’t exist in San Antonio.”

Klein, Thomas and Watson aren’t the first Austin businessmen to invest in North Downtown: Austin bar Lucky Duck recently opened a San Antonio location in a fledgling bar district near Broadway that has also attracted out-of-town investors such as National Bar band Pouring with Heart.

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The Ice House will feature a bar and music stage in the 9,400-square-foot 1970s building, Massari said. It will be pet and kid friendly, with arcade games inside and outdoor games. The bar itself could be 40 feet long — “that could probably give Esquire downtown a run for its money for longest bar,” he said.

Massari compared the live music setting planned for the Ice House to what exists at Lonesome Rose, a honky-tonk bar on Saint Mary’s Strip in Tobin Hill that recently celebrated its fifth anniversary.

“We feel like San Antonio is missing a place where you can just go and do everything,” he said. “You can watch a game in this place; you can host a corporate event. Or just have a great afternoon with friends.”

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