Stuttgart Travel plans re-opening

Published 10:52 am Friday, August 15, 2008

After two months and thousands of dollars in repairs, Stuttgart Tan and Travel is almost ready to open doors, anticipating an Aug. 18 re-open date after a forced closure from flood waters in June.

“It’s taken more than two solid months of super hard work and wage loss to get going again,” owner Jane Hovland said, adding, “We just got the tanning beds in, but no doors. If the door come in, then, yeah, we’ll be open.”

Doors and tanning beds are two of many items replaced as a result of water levels inside her East Oakland Avenue building. Hovland said its top height was four feet at her site, about one foot higher than what was reported at Hardy Geranium, which re-opened for business about two weeks ago.

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The two businesses have repeatedly been hit by the four-year flood events over the past 12 years, including 2000, 2004 and 2008. Last June, severe weather caused near-record water levels on the Cedar River, Dobbins Creek and Turtle Creek.

Local officials have called the flood the third-worst in Austin’s history.

Because of its tenuous location, the city had offered to buy out Stuttgart and Hardy Geranium as part of citywide property acquisition for its multi-million dollar flood mitigation plan.

Both owners — Hovland and Vicki Trimble — refused, and maintain that, despite flooding issues, they stand to lose more by leaving than they’ll gain.

“It’s a great building, great location, convenient parking. And it’s my building,” Hovland said, adding that she’ll either face substantial debt or be forced to rent if she took the city’s $70,000 offer.

So, like Trimble, she scraped carpet and demolished walls, essentially gutting her tanning salon/travel agency. And again like Trimble, she thankfully had the insurance to finance interior reconstruction.

“I feel so fortunate we have flood insurance,” she said.

Hovland has been working by appointment for the last several weeks, and said she should be ready next Monday for regular business hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Trimble said she’s back to work full time after a five-week break in business. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Hardy Geranium was given a new, improved look as repair crews and staff gutted and restored her building.

“It flooded up to three feet, so anything on the main floor (was affected),” she said. “We had the floors redone, walls, electrical. We lost a lot of inventory — more than we did before.”

Trimble also wanted to remind customers the roads are open east of the Oakland Avenue underpass construction project, which began early this month, including the intersection of First Avenue Northeast and Oakland Avenue East adjacent to her and Hovland. The underpass project involves demolition of three bridges, road reconstruction and utility updates.