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Broken Spoke, other Austin staples, find peace with new neighbors

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As bulldozers and cranes plow through Austin, some iconic businesses seemingly remain untouchable.

In a year's time, the famous honky-tonk, the Broken Spoke, will be completely surrounded in its South Lamar home by a new mixed-use development, to be named 704 at the Spoke.

"I tell people my place is right across the street from the Broken Spoke and they know exactly where it's at, that's something that definitely needs to stay," Richey Cemerek with Pit-Stop Auto Repair said. "It looks just like it did back in the early 70s."

Sometimes bar patrons park in Richey Cemerek's parking lot, but he doesn't mind. He also welcomes the 385 apartments and 20,000 square feet of retail space developer Transwestern is putting up across the street.

He's hoping the folks moving in a year from now will bring their cars into Pit-stop Auto Repair.

"It's going to help me a lot," Cemerek said

An influx of people is good for business, but the Jeremy Cohen, manager of South Austin fine dining restaurant Paggi House, points out the downside.

"I wish our visibility as far as a place being seen from the road was greater," he said.

Cohen remembers being able to see the little red restaurant, which sits on historic land just two-and-a-half miles north from the Broken Spoke.

Now it's tucked away behind the Bridges on the Park and, according to the Austin Business Journal, there could be another building going up next door on the corner of South Lamar and Riverside Drive.

"The people moving in they need places to live,” Cohen said. “It's all a balancing act."

Two West Fifth Street bars have so far managed to survive nearby development. The Mean Eyed Cat and the Tiniest Bar in Texas have both been engulfed by urban growth, but remain staples of the Downtown scene.

Bars make a name for themselves and—as Cemerek puts it—they become a tradition.

"It's still going to be the exact same place,” Cemerek said of the Broken Spoke. “I mean, there’re a lot of memories over there."

Transwestern said they made a conscious decision to renew the Broken Spoke's lease. They have provided valet service for bar patrons because the construction has made it difficult to park.

Apartments will be ready for move-in September 2013.

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