The Congress Avenue Marriott — a 1,000 room hotel complex on 2nd and Congress avenue — is the most controversial, and one of the least popular downtown projects. The project is best known for displacing Las Manitas and other local businesses. While the full details of the current plan are not known, the last two versions of the project were criticized for bland institutional architecture and a lack of ground-floor retail on a key block connecting the convention center area to the second street district.
The Congress Avenue Marriott, V. 1.0
The original plan for the project included 1,000 rooms across 3 separate Marriott-branded hotels in one convoluted multi-facted building. The second version of the project included two hotels in one building. Version 3.0, announced today, includes just one Marriott hotel with 1,000 rooms. With the changes and increases in downtown construction costs, the project budget has supposedly climbed from $185 million to more than $250 million.
The ironic thing is that the hotel is actually a good thing for Austin. A 1,000 room hotel will allow the city to book larger conferences and events — bringing valuable tourism dollars and jobs to Austin. Their is a shortage of rooms downtown and a crazy large 1,000 room hotel can make a big difference. The problem is all in the developer’s and Marriott’s execution of the project: they seem to have no respect for downtown Austin and no interest in making it better place. If they hired an architect and surrounded the building with ground-floor retail, this would be a much more palatable.
Here is a summary from the Austin Business Journal:
Plans for a downtown hotel project at Second Street and Congress Avenue have changed yet again and will now feature a single, 1,000-room Marriott convention center hotel.White Lodging Services Corp. had originally planned to build three different hotels at the northeast corner of the intersection where Las Manitas café and other businesses currently stand. The proposed hotels included a 650-room Marriott convention center hotel, 200-room Renaissance Hotel and 150-room Springhill Suites hotel.Last summer the company switched course on the project saying it would build an 800-room convention center Marriott and 200-room upscale J.W. Marriott. The move was said to be due in part to greater demand for rooms dedicated to convention-goers and the growing market for upscale lodging downtown.This week White Lodging confirmed it will now build a single 1,000-room Marriott, but a spokesperson could not comment on why the group is altering course a third time. The most recent pricetag on the project puts the cost at about $250 million, though it’s unclear if the new plan would alter that in any way.
We’ll post new renderings as soon as they become available.