The new Rainey Street District location of the Cambria Hotel brand by Choice Hotels International finally broke ground yesterday at 68 East Avenue, four full years after its first announcement — and although the Cambria is part of a chain just like its neighbors directly to the north at the baffling Homewood Suites by Hilton and the upcoming Fairfield by Marriott, respectively located at 78 and 76 East Avenue, it features the best design out of the three.
Bringing the district 212 rooms in a 14-story tower expected to open by summer 2023, the Cambria is a project by Stratus Development Partners out of Newport Beach, California, where you’ll also find its designers at Hannouche Architects.
Though we’ve recently complained about the number of chain hotels headed to this side of downtown Austin’s fastest-developing district, we’re certain these properties and their lower average room prices from other downtown hotels will cover a gap in the market — alongside the adjacent entertainment district on Rainey Street, they’re within a short walk of the Austin Convention Center.
You can see very clearly in the latest rendering of the project that its garage component is accessed via curb cut on East Avenue, but older views of the building also showed access from the rear by way of the alley between East Avenue and Rainey Street, which we’re hoping gets paved soon — several buildings either planned or underway along this alley seem poised to activate it for pedestrian use alongside cars, which would certainly make it easier to fully pedestrianize Rainey Street proper.
The press release for yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony mentions amenities including “a multi-function meeting space, a state-of-the-art fitness center overlooking Rainey Street, pool patio and terrace, lobby bar, fireplace and living room,” but the project doesn’t appear to bring any ground-level retail oriented toward the public — and with this section of East Avenue’s currently TxDOT-maintained pedestrian environment, who could blame them?