Mercer dance hall to turn out the lights in May

An iconic downtown Dripping Springs dance and music venue will bring down its curtains for good next month.

On Monday, owners of the Mercer Street Dance Hall announced via a gofundme crowdfunding page plans to close the location, citing a lost battle against “exorbitant rent increases” by landlords who own the property.

But owners of the venue are now setting their sights on possibly starting a new dance hall on a parcel of property they own between Dripping Springs and Wimberley.

Nick Dotin, co-owner of Mercer Street Dance Hall, said he and his wife, Shelby, who is also co-owner, have fought “for years” against rent increases, but felt it was “time to let this battle go.”

The landlord notified the Dotins they had 30 days, or until May 10, to vacate.

Nick Dotin said his family realized closing the venue could happen, but they didn’t expect it to happen “so fast.”

“We have stood and fought against the potential exorbitant rent increases that each new landlord (we are on our third) have felt compelled to thrust upon us,” according to a post on a gofundme page created by Shelby Dotin.

But Dean Erickson, broker and owner of Erickson and Associates, an Austin area brokerage firm, said Dotin’s plans and those of the landlords “couldn’t match up.”

Jimmie Vaughan strums his guitar during a February 2016 show at the Mercer Street Dance Hall. (Photo by Moses Leos III)

Following probate of the will of former property owner, H.C. Carter, Carter’s family is taking possession of the property.

Erickson said his brokerage firm took over the property in late December 2017 and Clark’s family gave Dotin “a significant amount of time” to renew the lease. However, Erickson said negotiations abruptly stalled and Dotin was not willing to talk.

Since then, the property at 332 Mercer Street has been put up for lease. Erickson said Carter’s family intends to be the same “good stewards of downtown Dripping Springs as H.C. was.” Erickson added the family is “like-minded in doing things for the community as well as good for businesses.”

Erickson said the family’s intention is to “entertain and have folks” in the space that are in concert with the retail component nearby.

Chris Harkness, promotions manager for Mercer Street, said closure of the venue is a “sad thing” for Dripping Springs, which he said was losing its only dance hall.

Harkness added the dance hall was “enhancing the appeal” of downtown Dripping Springs. While the dance hall was the “new kid on the block,” Harkness said the venue was accepted by the community that frequents historic dance halls.

The Dotins are now focusing on opening what they’re calling Little Mercer, a dirt bar and taco trailer. They ultimately hope to build a new and improved dance hall on their own land.

The Dotins are also looking to the community for support. A crowd sourcing effort has helped them raise approximately $4,000 of their $250,000 goal.

“With the taco truck, the new dance hall, and a set of vacation rental cabins, we’re creating a little slice of heaven right here in Dripping Springs,” according to the gofundme page.

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