The 30-story downtown Austin hotel plan proposed by local hospitality firm Merritt Development Group at the southeast corner of West Fifth and Lavaca Streets is set to appear before the city’s Design Commission tonight, seeking a ruling on its compliance with the design requirements of the Downtown Density Bonus Program.
That’s great news for us, since it means we’ve got a full set of updated renderings of the approximately 370-foot tower from national architecture firm DLR Group to peruse at our leisure. You’ll note that the building seen here looks fairly different from the earliest renderings of the project first made public — let’s take a look:
Remember, this project will be a dual-branded hotel containing two Hilton flags, a duo of the classic Embassy Suites and lifestyle-focused Tempo by Hilton brands together containing a total of 480 rooms.
That’s an update from the original version of the project we saw last year, which paired Embassy Suites with the Motto by Hilton brand — but you’d have to be a real hotel geek to care about that switch. (Our first concern is something like, “will it have beds?”) The project will also include approximately 10,000 square feet of restaurant space facing the corner on the first and second levels of the tower, and these latest renderings include a rooftop amenity deck, as seen above.
It’s a handsome, if not particularly adventurous design, but vastly improves the ground-level streetscape of this corner thanks to the Great Streets requirements of the Downtown Density Bonus Program — the addition of street trees and better sidewalks to the area will improve your downtown experience even if you never set foot inside this hotel, which is how these design guidelines are supposed to work!
We’ll have to see what the Design Commission thinks at the meeting this evening, but the hotel plan has already passed one major hurdle, with the demolition of the existing buildings at this corner approved by the Historic Landmark Commission — although it’s an interesting couple of structures, being old and being historic are two extremely different things. Better check out the ping pong-themed bar currently operating here while you can, assuming you like that sort of thing.