Last week, we reported that 1,000+ room Congress Avenue Marriott was back on-track. The project has been highly unpopular: the architecture is bad, the building lacks clear plans for ground floor retail, and the initial project resulted in the demolition of popular business such as Las Manitas. The building risks draining the life from a key downtown block connecting the 2nd street district to the convention district and 6th street on the East side of Congress. The developers caused additional controversy last week by requesting the waiver of more than $4 million in city fees to build the project.
The city needs a big new hotel to lure convention business and this has given the Marriott developers leverage as the only big budget project on the blocks. That is — until now. This week, a San Diego development firm announced plans to build a 50-story 1,000 room hotel on the other side of the convention center.
The newly proposed project on Waller Creek provides a great alternative for the City: the architecture is interesting, the block is the ideal site for a large hotel between the convention center and I35. The developers are not aggressively pushing for fee relief from the City. The hotel would be the second tallest building in Austin after the Austonian.
Here is a summary from the Statesman:
“A San Diego hotel developer plans to build a $350 million hotel with more than 50 stories and 1,035 rooms east of the Austin Convention Center. The hotel would be built on land now used for parking at the northeast corner of Red River and Cesar Chavez streets, near Waller Creek.
Manchester Texas Financial Group could find itself in competition with White Lodging Services Corp., which plans a 1,003-room Marriott Marquis hotel on Congress Avenue between Second and Third streets.
It’s unclear whether Austin could support two more convention-size hotels, in addition to the 800-room Hilton Austin, so the developers could be in a race to see who can break ground first.
Manchester Texas would develop the hotel. Its parent, San Diego-based Manchester Financial Group, built the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the Marriott Hotel and Marina in San Diego, high-rise hotels on San Diego Bay.
The Austin project would include 115,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, along with two restaurants and retail space.
Douglas Manchester, founder and chairman of Manchester Financial Group, said Friday that the project has been going “at a pretty fast speed” and that he anticipates starting construction in the next 12 months. The project would take at least 18 to 24 months to build, he said. He said Manchester Financial can put the required equity into the project and attract the loans to complete it.”