Real estate mogul gears up for development of iconic Austin concert hall

Residential real estate mogul and music patron Gary Keller has saved another iconic music venue in Austin.

Keller — co-founder and executive chairman of Austin-based Keller Williams, now the world’s largest residential real estate company — recently purchased the Tuscan-style One World Theater in West Austin.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue hasn’t hosted many shows or events since 2020. In fact, One World Theater has been closed since February. Nick Shuley, executive director of Austin Music Movement, Keller’s music advocacy group, said plans are underway to reopen the venue, but details are not yet available.

“Gary and the Austin Music Movement’s efforts have always been focused on music preservation and economic growth in the music industry, and this will be no different,” Shuley told CultureMap.

Keller’s purchase of One World Theater in September 2021 follows its 2016 rescue of the South Austin building which houses the Saxon Pub, a staple of the local music scene.

“Gary has always believed in preserving music in Austin,” says Shuley. “Much like his efforts to buy the property that the Saxon Pub occupies, Gary wants to ensure that live music still has a home in Austin.”

Founded by husband and wife team Hartt and Nada Stearns, One World Theater opened in 1999 at 7701 Bee Caves Rd. Hartt Stearns acquired 100% ownership of the site in 2007.

Among the eclectic artists who have taken the stage in the 300-seat concert hall are Michael McDonald, Sérgio Mendes, the Doobie Brothers, Kenny Loggins, Ambrosia, Herbie Hancock and Jose Feliciano. Musical genres represented by performers include jazz, folk, pop, country, and classical.

In addition to hosting an array of cultural arts performances, the venue has hosted weddings and other events.

In the spring of 2021, speculation swirled that Austin comedian and mega-podcaster Joe Rogan planned to buy One World Theater and convert it into a comedy club. However, no such deal ever materialized. Rogan is now linked to the proposed conversion of the now closed Alamo Drafthouse Ritz Theater on East Sixth Street into a comedy venue.

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