Would you live next to a Strip Club?

Austin Strip Club Photo I was driving up S. Congress the other day, checking out the progress on the SoCo Lofts and wondered if the units on the north end, which overlook a strip club and its parking lot, will sell for as much as the others.

The photo you see here is of the north side of SoCo Lofts. In the foreground is Expose “Gentlemen’s” Club sign (building is out of view to the left of the photo).

The north side would normally be desirable as it faces downtown and won’t have direct sunlight beaming into those north facing windows. But what might it be like at 2AM each night when the parking lot come alive with the engine noise, headlights and chatter of boisterous patrons departing the strip club? This is a question that a buyer really needs to consider.

Frankly, if I were looking at a unit and my view was going to be the sign and parking lot of a strip club, I think I’d pass. I’d rather look at the roof of the post office and the freeway from the south side.

And what might the directions to your new place sound like? “Drive South on Congress, turn left at the strip club and right into the first driveway”.

Back in 1996 Sylvia and I pondered a similar question as we had purchase a home 1 block behind the notorious porn theater at S. Congress and Live Oak. “SoCo”, as it is called now, wasn’t cool and hip back then, and it didn’t have the cool nickname. It was seedy and raw, with all variety of characters. But even then, underneath the grit, there was something endearing and attractive about the S. Congress area. We ended up flipping that house but seriously considered moving in instead. Our directions would have been “turn right at the porn theater, then take the next left”.

The immediate surroundings of a commercially located residence is something all condo buyers should think about. Not just this specific example, but any condo downtown or in a historically commercial area is going to have some element of potential noise or light pollution, depending on how high up you are and what sort of establishments surround your building. There are a lot of bars, restaurants and nightclubs in downtown Austin. Now that downtown Austin is seeing a growing residential population move into the new high rises, there is bound to be some friction.

Soco lofts austin tx
Note in the rendering of what the finished SoCo Lofts will look like. If you panned backward and a little to the left, there you’d have your neighboring establishment it in all its prominence. Of course the developer isn’t going to make this obvious. See the balconies on the north side? (left edge of photo). That’s where you’d do your people-watching. Probably, after buying those places, the new owners will start complaining about the noise and say that the strip club has to go. But it was there first, and it’s a legal establishment.

As for me, with a wife and kids, I don’t think I’d want the visual landscape or noise of a strip club outside my window.

11 thoughts on “Would you live next to a Strip Club?”

  1. I’ve been wondering the same thing myself, Steve. My band practices in one of the industrial buildings immediately east of those new lofts. I’m assuming that not only will the new condos put pressure on Expose, they’re also going to put pressure on the cheap rent that we’ve been enjoying in that area for the past 10 years. I honestly haven’t noticed too much craziness coming of out Expose. Ruta Maya and Opal’s Penn Field are just to the north and east of Expose as well and Opal’s sometimes has bands on the outside deck. The noise from that may be worse than Expose.

  2. My brother considered those lofts when they first came on the market. His problem was that the total number of condos in the development is quite small (under a 100 units if I remember correctly) and there is a much larger apartment section of the SoCo Lofts which will most likely fill with St. Ed’s students!

    I have lived next door to SEU kids for the past three years — they tend to be quite rich, drive big cars, and have parents who will come in and bail them out of any situation. Our current student neighbors are a quiet couple but before them were three boys who played poker all night, had all their friends park on our street every weekend and take cabs downtowns, and they trashed the house as well. They were very loud. I would worry more about owning a condo in a development full of students than I would living by a strip club (especially a legal and long-established place like expose).

  3. Growing pains! New development will eventually push this establishment out of the area and not until several lawyers make a fortune. It happen in our tourist downtown area. The locals won finally but what a battle. Whats the saying location location location.

  4. We have some of the same issues in Chicago per Wrigley Field. WF was there decades before the 15-year boom in
    Townhouses/Condos in the area. Yet people complain about the baseball fans as if somehow it totally passed their
    minds pre-purchase that the ballpark was IN the ballpark.

    My point is that if there is a great desire for neighborhood housing, its build first and ask questions/complain later. This seems to be similar to the Expose situation. I myself have grabbed some chow at Opals outside deck, and yes, the band was pretty loud. And, yes, there were quite a few cars next door driving up that steep hill to the strip club. Yet, builders see demand preceding those concerns.

    Per that WRIGLEY situation, I’m sure folks will complain about Opals/Expose as if they totally precluded its existence pre-
    purchase. Will they close up expose or issue a noise ordinance to Opals? I think it a fair chance. But, again, its always
    build first, ask questions/complain later.

    We also had another problem in Chicago on two fronts. In Tinley Park, they built a huge outdoor amphitheater near a preexisting subdivision. U2 was the first concert, a huge protest ensued, and they issued a draconian noise ordinance, which created possibly the worst sound quality of any music venue in the USA, as it was brought so low that it was barely discernible away from the front of the stage. The subdivision was there first, and they won. We had another issue in Indiana with a preexisting small stock car race track, which preceded the new subdivisions by decades. Of course, the builders were well aware of the situation, but housing was hot in the 90’s, and they built first and asked questions later. In that case, the racetrack lost, and they had to shut it down.

    In my opinion the city, allowing the zoning in the first place, is looking to raise the tax base in the area, and is more than willing to intercede to shut down/noise ordinance the area when asked down the line. These situations are preceded by acquiescing
    zoning authorizations, of which you can easily read between the lines to see what changes are in store for the future.

  5. A certain demographic (think 20something male professional) might not mind the proximity of a strip club as he’ll likely be a patron. Particularly if he can get a better deal on the loft given that its location is less desirable to a majority of potential buyers.

  6. shireen’s comment is particularly instructive – note that you have nearly no leverage against bad tenants in a rental house (no direct leverage; and their landlord isn’t particularly likely to want to evict them since he likely doesn’t have a ton of properties being rented). Compare/contrast to bad tenants in another condo in your building – there’s a condo association which has all sorts of power that can be brought to bear against the landlord. (Even an apartment has more leverage – one owner with 100 tenants he needs to keep collecting rent from is less likely to put up with bad behavior from one of them).

  7. Pre-existing buildings are one thing. At least you know about them. What I hate is when pre-existing things I like disappear. Like freeway entrances and other direct routes (who knew those could disappear?) as well as favorite stores that relocate or go out of business. You never know what your neighbors or even the zoning rules are going to be like in the future, so you just have to make your best guess. But certainly, don’t move to a neighborhood you already don’t like!

  8. It’ll take more than these mid-level condos to drive Expose out. Strip clubs typically pack the top ten in annual liquor sales in Austin, far outpacing any music venue (so much for that moniker!) The Expose property is evaluated based on it’s income-production value rather than resale value, so the property tax revenue it generates is far above what a comparable commercial property would. So the city has no fiscal incentive to push them out either. None of the central-city strip clubs – Yellow Rose, Sugars, Expose – are going anywhere anytime soon despite the spike in their neighbor’s property values. Their market just keeps growing along with the 5,000 new residents moving here every month.

  9. Those condos and apartments will fill up with students who think that the proximity to Expose and Opal’s is an attraction, plus they will be able to walk to SEU!

    I’m sure that the developer will do quite well.

    (And maybe then the students will stop living next to me!!)

  10. btw, rumor is that Ruta Maya’s is moving to North Loop and Lamar. So buyers of these condos might have to get their lattes from Expose.


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