By day, dump trucks and backhoes take over the same street hundreds of bar goers fill at night. Rainey Street is a peak spot for development in downtown Austin right now, with more funky bars popping up all the time.
Wendy Thomas hopes to cash in on the foot traffic soon when she opens The White House Charity Bar on Rainey Street.
Featuring oddities like a NASA spacecraft in the front yard, she hopes to help young professionals mix with nonprofits.
"This is an opportunity for them not just to talk about work or relationships, but to actually talk about the charities they are interested in,” Thomas said.
Thomas said getting permits from the city for her place wasn't hard. Since Rainey Street is part of the Central Business District, there's no cap on the number of bars or cocktail lounges.
However, Jerry Rusthoven with Austin Planning Development Review said that could change.
"There was just a concern, I think, among some of the residents of the condos about the proliferation of bars,” Rusthoven said. “There are quite a few bars over there."
The potential changes would require potential bar owners to seek approval from the city’s planning commission. It’s overstepping as far as Thomas is concerned.
"They shouldn't get in the process of planning businesses because that's not what they are there for,” she said. "That's not what we pay taxes for them to do."
Critics like Thomas feel the city is taking a reactionary approach. Just four years ago, there were no bars Rainey Street. Two years ago, about a handful. Now, there is easily a dozen and counting.
Rusthoven said the original vision for Rainey Street included a mix of galleries, restaurants, high rise development and bars.
Thomas and others predict, over the next few decades some of the new bars will give way to more permanent businesses and development.
"Those businesses that provide another Sixth Street probably won't survive on Rainey Street," she said.
Commissioners postponed discussion on the plan Tuesday due to a loaded agenda, but plan to take it up next month.
Recommendations could be sent to the city council by February.