Archives for April 2014

Cuban Restaurant in Downtown Austin – Pleasant Storage Room

Cuban Restaurant in Downtown Austin – Pleasant Storage Room

As far as I know, there aren’t currently any Cuban restaurant concepts in downtown Austin proper.  Well, there WASN’T before this week, anyway.  There’s a new one popping up in the warehouse district, where the now defunct Stack Burger Bar used to be (one of the restaurant concepts owned by the now infamous Yassine Enterprises).

Let me introduce you to Pleasant Storage Room, officially opening TODAY: [Read more…]

Downtown Austin Aloft & Element Hotel Proposal for Congress Ave

Downtown Austin Aloft & Element Hotel Proposal for Congress Ave

At last night’s Downtown Commission meeting, we heard from White Lodging on their proposed 33 story, 353 foot, 410 key, dual-branded Aloft/Element hotel at 7th & Congress Ave.

They paid more attention to engaging Congress Ave this time, compared to what they did originally with the JW.  The rhythm of the columns, al fresco dining, and dramatic doorway from Congress are hat tips to connecting with the street scape.

The development is seeking a zoning variance related to step-backs and loading docks, which the DC voted to recommend to City Council provided that: 1) accommodation be made to the adjacent Hideout Theatre, which shares a party wall with the proposed development, 2) keeping the shared alley and sidewalks clear, 3) The South facing wall has no windows since the adjacent property could eventually be developed. There is a light well, but additional architectural consideration should be paid to this wall since this will be the most visible face of the building.

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One interesting feature of this proposal is there will be zero parking spaces (excluding ADA requirements) and only three valet spots.  This isn’t the first Congress Ave hotel concept to propose no onsite parking.

I’m a believer in reducing parking to increase demand for public transit and reduce reliance upon cars.  It’s a rip-the-band-aid-off and get through the pain approach.  But, only three valet spots for such a large building?  Haha, lets watch this play out!  White Lodging knows a thing or two about operating successful hotels and how to park them.  The free market will determine the wisdom of this decision.   If they make it work it will be a huge signal to other developers about what is possible.

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Overall, I’m impressed with the proposal. It’s reflective of a city that’s grown up (not growing up) and it’s important that we support projects that bring density to narrow lots.

Tall and slender, if built, this would be the first new skyscraper on Congress Ave since … well… White Lodging’s other hotel currently under construction, the 1000 room JW Marriott.

-Jude

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