Last month, the Austin City Council enacted a zoning change and turned over a public alley in the most effort to lure a major convention hotel to Block 18 — the Congress Avenue block that used to house Las Manitas and which was at one point going to be taken over by a very large Marriott hotel.
The Congress Avenue Marriott — a 1,000 room hotel complex on 2nd and Congress avenue — was one of the most controversial, and one of the least popular downtown projects. The project is best known for displacing Las Manitas and other local businesses. Before being cancelled, 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 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 included just one Marriott hotel with 1,000 rooms. The budget at one point reached $250 million before the project was shelved.
Now, the City is trying new tactics to