Angela Hunt, Sandy Greyson Promise to Quiet the Katy Trail Ice House

Categories: Neighborhoods

When the Katy Trail Ice House opened two years ago, it was an immediate hit with the young professionals and SMU students who populate the Uptown area. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, they come for the basketball-sized beers and stay for the decidedly frat-like atmosphere.

The complaints started flowing as soon as the beer did. They've mostly come from residents of the adjacent Park Towers Condos, who say that the noise that wafts across the Katy Trail is unbearable. They've called police. They've contacted city officials. They even filed a complaint with the TABC. And they've gotten nowhere.

In a last-ditch attempt to get something done, a condo resident -- I didn't catch her name -- detailed her concerns to the Dallas City Council this morning.

Neighbors have tried everything, she said. A year or so ago assistant city manager Joey Zapata and Jim McKissick, a district code manager, visited the condos at 11 p.m. on a Friday night with a decibel meter and determined the noise levels exceeded that allowed by city code, she said. Neighbors later commissioned an independent report from an acoustics firm that came to the same conclusion.

The woman called the noise "intolerable and unbearable," and said it spoils residents' enjoyment of their homes and terraces, which she says were a major selling point for the development and the envy of Turtle Creek. "Nobody on the south side uses their terrace at this point, even in the penthouse."

For the record, the owners of the Katy Trail Ice House say they have spent two years trying to allay neighbors' concerns and that it's only a small minority of neighbors, like the woman who visited the City Council, who continue to complain.

Co-owner Joe Tillotson called after this post was originally published to point that out, noting that the beer garden is on the site of a former swinger's club.

"We think we've brought a lot to that neighborhood, and we think we've made it a better place,"

He also takes issue with our characterization of his business as "decidedly frat-like," a description that has been used as a slander against the establishment by angry neighbors and isn't accurate.

Her plea for got a sympathetic hearing from City Council members Angela Hunt and Sandy Greyson, who.each pledged to take action.

"I'm really troubled to hear that there was such a violation of the decibel restrictions," Hunt said, suggesting she might be able to help broker a solution as she did on Lower Greenville. "It might be most productive [for me] to meet with our assistant city manager and figure out a course of action and bring that to you guys."

Greyson, who said she's dealing with a similar issue in her Far North Dallas district with music from a venue on Preston Road, suggested a tweak to the development code to make noise restrictions easier to enforce. "I'll get with Ms. Hunt and whoever else we need to get to tackle this," she promised.

"That would be so wonderful," the woman gushed, clearly ecstatic. After all, it's good to have Greyson and Hunt on your side in a neighborhood squabble.

We've been talking to them for a couple of years to be good neighbors. We're proeprty owner

We have heard from hundreds

(unfair characterization of our business)...certainly this business that I'm .... In our world ...

Joe Tillotson

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The bar was warned from Day One. The established townhouses and high-rise apartments that are directly across from the bar were against the Ice House from the beginning, but Phillip (the Katy Trail Czar) realized what a boon it would be to continue making his trail 'So Cool'. When the neighbors complained, they got green-bottle mortar shells and half-empties thrown on their properties, mostly on the other side of the Bamboo that lines the West side of the trail. For years now there have been extra broom patrols on the Katy in that area to sweep the busted bottles and debris off the trail on weekends. Heck, some enterprising person could make a tidy living repairing flats for cyclists in that area. 

Show some respect for the people and institutions that have lived there, some for decades now, well before the Hipster-Machine started cranking up "Ice Houses" and "After-Hours" establishments - they're the ones cutting the checks that made FoKT happen in the first place. 


Didn't the TABC review all of this a couple of months ago and conclude that there was no basis for the complaints from the Park Towers?  

I've been to the Katy Trail Ice House many times, often with my family and dog on a weekend afternoon.  It's such a unique and cool concept -- I feel like I'm in Austin whenever I go.  It brings visibility to the Katy Trail and seems to fit the City's plan to connect people (especially young professionals) to downtown (West Village, Klyde Warren Park, Arts District, Perot museum, etc.).  The reality is that the expansion of Uptown and surrounding area is good for the city, and while all establishments need to comply with city ordinances, it sure would be a shame if the city let the voice of a clear minority ruin a good thing.

I've also worked with sound experts in litigation before.  For every expert who says noise levels are unacceptable, you can find one who says just the opposite.  Has anyone pointed out that Southwest Airlines planes fly directly over the Park Towers all day long?  Should we shut down Love Field?


Jo Tillotson points out the location was a former swingers club. Indeed it was, but what ever they were doing in there, they were doing it quietly


110 decibels is the sound level of a power saw at 3'.  115 decibels is the sound of a loud rock concert.  Somebody might have a propensity for the dramatic exaggeration and doubtful to have ever been there.  Not loud.  Tired of the flood gates argument.  Turn it around.  How much control should your hyper-sensitive neighbor that can barely hear anything have over your property.  Where does it stop?  Did you take your meter last time you were there?  What is the ordinance level?


You do not get to say I am too cool to obey an ordinance. Turn the music down, put up some noise barriers and carry on. How much noise should neighbors tolerate? 110 decibels, 115. Where does it stop? It stops at the ordinance level.

Montemalone topcommenter

That must explain why the Ice House is constantly expanding, to keep the noise down.


uh oh...if Hunt is on the case you can pretty much expect the entire area to be killed off...And then maybe one day theyll get a Walmart and a Trader Joes and some exotic restaurants that wont last


If you can afford to hire an acoustics firm to do an independent report, you can probably afford a pair of earplugs. Problem solved. Next...

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

I think I would enjoy looking down from my exclusive condo terrace upon the hoi-polloi rubbing elbows on the commons after their bland week of toil.


Be careful of Angela Hunt's help.  She could either turn the area into a Mad Max style wasteland (i.e. Greenville Avenue) or "allegedly" cut a deal with developers to look the other way (i.e. Henderson Avenue). 

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