Archives for June 2011

The Well-Mannered Downtown Austin Blog (the dog!)

The Well-Mannered Downtown Austin Blog (the dog!)

We have a dog.  His name is Blog, incidentally, and he is a very sweet shih tzu that we have had since he was 2 months old (he is now 7 months old).  As I said, he is very sweet, but he is NOT always very well behaved.

Dog behavior is a quality of life issue for human owners all on its own, but it’s compounded when you live in smaller quarters without a yard where you can just let your pup play and be out of your hair.  A well-mannered, trained dog is simply a [Read more…]

A Tale Of Two Hotels

A Tale Of Two Hotels

Anyone listening in at City Hall might have heard city staff remind city council not to call the new hotel hotels being pitched downtown a “convention hotel.”

If you are wondering why, check out this story I wrote while at the Austin Business Journal in December.  It is curious why this point has been overlooked or ignored by other media outlets.

To plagiarize, well, myself: “The city barred itself nine years ago from designating any other hotel as one of the city’s ‘convention center hotels’ when it agreed to a contract that called for issuing more than $250 million in bonds to build the downtown Austin Hilton, according to public records filed with the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, or MSRP. The city reaffirmed that pledge when it refinanced the bonds in 2006.”

The second hotel developers are quick to point out they are not asking for subsidies, like the Marriott project planned on 2nd Street and Congress Avenue is.

But they can’t, according to the contract.

Interestingly, the Statesman reported on June 23 that the second hotel, planned by Austin developers Perry Lorenz and Robert Knight, could be a Hilton.

But according to the same contract I sourced above, the Hilton can’t build another hotel unless they cut through some red tape.

Just goes to show, I guess, a contract with the city is only as good as the litigators you want to enforce it.

And Then There Were Two

And Then There Were Two

A well timed announcement for a 50+story hotel at Red River and Cesar Chavez has shifted the attention away from the Mariott Marquis seeking a waiver of $4MM in development fees.

The latest hotel announced by Manchester Texas Financial Group is receiving good reviews for its design, ambition, and potential for embracing the Waller Creek District Master Plan.

To be clear, there really isn’t a choice here.  Each project is pushing forward on their own merits.  But the timing begs the question “which building can break ground first?”.

Both would be significant additions to the skyline and economy.  Development fee waivers, if any, will likely go to the project that is most prepared and that can begin construction soonest.

That’s incentive!

Below is a rendering of the “Grand Hotel” at Waller Creek

grand hotel on waller creek

Second Set Of Glass Panels Fall From W Hotel

Second Set Of Glass Panels Fall From W Hotel

The Statesman reports that more glass panels fell from downtown Austin’s W Hotel.  Fortunately, nobody was hurt.   This is the second incident of falling glass panels this month.  In the photo below, it appears there are panels missing from three floors.

UPDATE: [Read more…]

Downtown Austin Link Roundup

The news didn’t stop to take a breath this week, at least as it relates to downtown Austin.  Lots of announcements, lots of speculation.  These are the stories we’re following.

1) 219 West is moving from Warehouse district to West 6th Street, into the old Union Park space.  (link)

2) In “how will they fit it in there?” news: a proposed tower between Shoal Creek and Spring Condos, behind Tiniest Bar In Texas. (link)  UPDATE: Zoning change approved (link)

3) The White Lodging Hotel on Congress Ave isn’t the only proposed hotel.  In fact, there’s another player looking at the lot next to the Palm School, and they are not seeking any fee waivers.  (link)

4) Austin City Council delays vote on the White Lodging (“Mega Hotel”) fee waivers. (link)

5) Permanent supportive housing should not be placed near other social services (link)

6) Gables Republic Park says they won’t build soon, or at least until Travis County gets a clear vision on its new downtown courthouse site.  (link)