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NO SALE after developer offers $3 million for East Austin's Sam's BBQ

An East Austin business owner is being asked how he could walk away from a $3 million offer for his corner lot. (CBS Austin)

An East Austin business owner is being asked how he could walk away from a $3 million offer for his corner lot. The shop is in an area rapidly losing affordable properties in favor of more expensive condos. The multimillion dollar offer for Sam's BBQ comes in the middle of Austin's debate over CodeNEXT, the proposed new land development code being crafted to address affordability and gentrification.

The old barbershop at 12th and Chicon is still there, although the neighborhood barber now drives in. Eldrick Cooper says, “I’ve been commuting for the last 19 years. So I was commuting before the change was coming."

And Sam's BBQ is still there after six decades. Long-time fan Andrew Hoekzema says, “Before Franklin's and before all the new places came out this was the place I used to come all the time."

In recent years the neighborhood has changed... And so have the neighbors. Austin City Council District 1 Representative Ora Houston notes, “They're not going to the barber shop there, they're not eating at Sam's."

Supporters of CodeNEXT are hoping the new development code will allow the people who once filled these streets to afford to live here again. Houston wonders aloud, “…whether the assertion that people will have more housing that people can afford to come back to? I don't know that to be true."

Sam’s owner Brian Mays was recently offered $3 million for the property. But to him Sam's is not just an asset. He stresses, “That's what I keep trying to tell you. I can't sell it."

Sam’s is how he supports his family. He spells it out the problem of taking the money and sharing it with his family, “I take $3 million and divide it up among everybody. I got 18 kids, 43 grandkids, 6 ex-wives, 5 brothers, 3 lawyers. What am I supposed to do?"

So to keep their doors open, Sam's and the barbershop and everyone else on East 12th Street plan to work even harder to convert their new neighbors into new customers.

BTW—Wednesday evening 6/13, the latest offer for his business is $3.5 million.

Still no sale.

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