No downtown Austin project is more controversial than the mammoth Marriott complex between 2nd and 3rd between Congress and Brazos. The massive and thoroughly unispiring project has many enemies across the city for many reasons. First, the project is large and architecturally mediocre. Second, the project lacks a plan to extend the retail streetscape on a critical downtown block. Finally, it displaced a number of beloved local businesses including the restaurant Las Manitas, the folk art store Tesoros trading company, as well as a downtown daycare center.
Although the global economic crisis has delayed the $275 million 1,000 room project, the existing storefronts were demolished this week. Now, the critical block at the intersection of Congress Avenue, the Second Street District, and the Convention Center district will lay empty. The Marriott compex has managed to eliminate three core businesses from Congress street with no future project in site. Fortunately, Tesoros has reopened on South Congress, the day care center is moving, and Las Manitas is expected to open at some point in the future in a different building on the same block.
Las Manitas Demolition (Photo by Paul D’Arcy)