The inopportune demolition of the Las Manitas restaurant and neighboring buildings has sparked some discussion in the blogosphere. On December 5th, it was announced that the 1,000 room Marriott hotel development was put on hold. Chris Bradford over at Austin Contrarian suggests we charge developers a fee if they delay development of blighted block.
Time will tell how long it takes Marriott to develop to sell the site. One reason to be optimistic that Marriott may still have sincere interest in developing the hotel is that Downtown Austin hotels routinely reach full capacity. Meanwhile, wrapping a block in chain link fence and leaving it to sid idly will not be taken kindly by local stakeholders. I would like to see City Council implement maximum development timelines for projects like this and begin to revoke concessions initially granted to the project.
AustinTowers has some photos of the demolished block.