Last year we began tracking the City’s push to expand the Austin Convention Center. Which is all well and good until they expressed interest in doing it by swallowing downtown blocks.
The City Council Economic Opportunity Committee is slated to receive an update on the Convention Center’s expansion plan on Monday Aug. 24 — according to the draft agenda
I and others will be interested to see if the briefing adds any clarity to City’s public plan to buy one of the last prime redevelopment sites along Cesar Chavez (Block 8) for the expansion. The real estate, in the southern shadow of the Four Seasons Residences west of the Convention Center, has no height restrictions.
News broke in July that White Lodging had acquired a land lease on the same property and proposed to build a hotel on the site. However, the development news — which appears to have been “placed” by White Lodging PR — is sparse on details.
How the two projects would actually marry seems very complex. It would be a sophisticated negotiating move by White Lodging to make this play to entice the City Council to really put their foot on the gas and fast track a Convention Center expansion.
The CEO of White Lodging was quoted in the local paper as saying the company’s looks “forward to working collaboratively with the city to ensure this project complements, and hopefully expedites, the proposed convention center expansion.”
Anyone who has ever bought or sold a car or a puppy knows how to put the heat on by lobbing in another interested buyer/seller — even if they are half imaginary. I encourage our City Council to consider that their policy choices on this matter will forever impact the future of downtown Austin.
As my friend Marshall put it: