Property purchase

St. John's School buys Blanco's property — what will happen to the hallowed honky tonk?

St. John's School buys Blanco's property — what will happen to the hallowed honky tonk?

Blanco's, parking lot, January 2013
Blanco's Bar & Grill's days may be numbered with a recent announcement that the plot has been sold to St. John's School.  Photo by Tyler Rudick
St. John's School, sign, fence
SJS increases its current campus by 33 percent with the purchase of the land. Google Maps
St. John's School, campus, students
SJS headmaster Mark Desjardins said that a master planning firm has been hired to begin work on a long-range plan this month. TexasQuizBowl.org
Blanco's, parking lot, January 2013
St. John's School, sign, fence
St. John's School, campus, students

Over the weekend, St. John's School alumni received an email announcing the school's purchase of a 13-acre tract of property along Buffalo Speedway and West Alabama Street. The property was sold by Kitch and Marcy Taub. 

"Acquiring this property expands our current campus footprint by 33%, thus securing the long-term capacity of St. John's to grow and evolve without the constraints that many city campuses face," headmaster Mark Desjardins wrote in the email. "This acquisition also gives us control over what can be developed on this land." 

But what does this property acquisition mean for Blanco's Bar & Grill, the popular River Oaks ice house and urban honky tonk that currently calls that spot home?

"I can't tell you anything right now," Karin Barnes, manager and co-owner of Blanco's, told CultureMap on Tuesday afternoon. (When CultureMap called on Dec. 26 after rumors of the sale first surfaced, an unidentified Blanco's employee knew nothing of the transaction. )

Barnes continued that she hasn't spoken with the new landlord about the status of Blanco's lease. The bar lists bookings on its live music schedule through March 28. 

The future of Blanco's has been in limbo since the death of Barry E. DeBakey — son of noted heart surgeon Michael DeBakey and longtime owner — in June 2007. Employees speculated then that Blanco's would be closed "within weeks," but Barry C. DeBakey — son of Barry E. — negotiated to keep the establishment open. 

Blanco's received something of a facelift in mid-2012, and CultureMap columnist and longtime patron Marene Gustin noted the new chairs, the replaced windows and the spiffed-up restrooms.

"While this additional land will provide immediate value to St. John's, we have initiated a formal process to develop a new long-range master plan. A leading master planning firm has been hired and the planning process will begin this month," said Desjardins in the email. 

St. John's School was not able to provide further information at this time.

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