On January 21, 2015, the #1 song in America was “Uptown Funk” and this site published a post about a hotel tower planned at the Brick Oven Pizza restaurant at 1201 Red River Street. Just shy of eight years later, that restaurant’s still standing, although it closed two years ago — and there’s still no hotel in sight.
To be fair, a lot has changed for the roughly half-acre site at the northeast corner of 12th and Red River Streets during those years, with the grand opening of the new Waterloo Park across the intersection slowly joined by the redevelopment of the former Brackenridge Hospital, Symphony Square, the pending HealthSouth towers, and everything else constituting downtown’s so-called Innovation District. It’s enough to make you think a hotel here is a pretty sure thing, sooner or later — and recent permit activity, not to mention a fairly detailed request for bids from the project’s general contractors at Flintco, make us bullish on the possibility of the 12th and Red River hotel breaking ground in 2023. After all these years, it’s kind of hard to believe!
Known as the Waterloo Park Hotel in planning documents, the broad strokes of the building’s design by architects BOKA Powell on behalf of local developers Hesperus Group haven’t actually changed much in several years, at least according to the renderings we’ve had on hand — the plan describes a 27-floor hotel tower containing a total of 382 rooms, with lobby-level bar and restaurant space, ballroom and meeting space located one floor below an indoor-outdoor amenity level at the seventh floor, and a rooftop pool deck capping the whole thing off.
While the brand identity of the project hasn’t been announced, franchise disclosure documents from 2021 indicate the hotel could join Hilton’s Curio Collection group. A recent request for bids on the project by general contractors Flintco with a deadline of earlier this week includes a start date of April 2023.
Although a signature hotel project at this location seemed like a bit of a stretch in 2015 when the main thing going around here was the hospital, this district’s new mixed-use anchors make the plan a much easier sell — Waterloo Park and its Moody Amphitheater are obviously the most significant attractions, but there’s a lot more growth to come in the form of the Innovation District’s expected commercial tenants. Sitting around on this land for the better part of a decade might have paid off.