The approval of demolition applications for two adjacent buildings in downtown Austin late last month by the city’s Historic Landmark Commission will clear the southwest corner of East Fifth and Trinity Streets for a new hotel tower project, according to development permits filed earlier this week. Occupying a quarter-block, the adjacent structures at 307 and 311 East Fifth Street both date back to the 1920s, with the HLC releasing their demolition permits only after staff’s determination that neither property contained sufficient historic merit for preservation. Both properties are owned by a series LLC linked to local investors the Finley Company.
The 311 property, most recently home to event venue Trinity Hall, is already closed — but fans of the downtown restaurant Russian House now occupying the 307 site will be disappointed to see its eventual closure and demolition if the development plan moves forward. (For what it’s worth, the current location of storied blues club Antone’s, next door to Russian House on the west side and also owned by the Finley Company, doesn’t appear to be involved in these plans.)
Demolition-related permits filed for these properties late last year also indicate the involvement of hotel management firm White Lodging, which has previously worked with the Finley Company to develop three other major hotels on its local downtown-area property holdings — the JW Marriott at East Second Street and Congress Avenue; the dual-branded Aloft / Element hotel at East Seventh Street and Congress Avenue; and the Otis / AC hotel at East MLK Jr. and San Antonio Streets in West Campus.
According to this week’s permit for the site, the new project at this corner contains a 260-key hotel and a 3,000-square-foot restaurant space, with no mention of other amenities or total height. Considering that the nearby Westin Austin Downtown also occupies a quarter-block tract and contains 366 rooms in a mere 22-story building, it sounds like what’s currently planned here won’t be very big — but other features or additional uses could potentially be announced later, since the site’s complete lack of constraints on density by Capitol View Corridors doesn’t make a smaller building seem like the highest and best use of this land. Either way, go eat at Russian House now.
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