A demolition application scheduled to appear at the October 5 meeting of the city’s Historic Landmark Commission could point to a new tower development on the northwestern edge of downtown Austin. The permit, listed for consideration on the upcoming meeting’s agenda, indicates an applicant is seeking to demolish the building at 1800 Guadalupe Street, a former apartment building dating back to 1923 that’s currently occupied by the office of law firm Dunham & Jones. Co-founding attorney Paul Dunham sold the property earlier this summer to an LLC connected with the Nashville-based real estate company Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners — and that same LLC also simultaneously purchased the larger adjacent western property at 410 West 18th Street from owners the Burt Group.
Bottom line, these purchases mean AJ Capital Partners now controls a 0.84-acre assembly at the northwest corner of West 18th and Guadalupe Streets, and with the potential demolition of the 1800 Guadalupe Street building set to hit the HLC next month, the new owners appear to be preparing the site for development.
Longtime readers of the blog might recall that back in 2017, the 410 West 18th Street property directly west of the law office building was once slated for a 12-story office tower project known as 410 Uptown, but the plan stalled after the demolition of the old plumbing company offices at the site. Over the last couple of years, the property was instead used as a construction staging area for the new Travis County courthouse next door at 1700 Guadalupe Street, but as that project now approaches completion, the land will be freed up for whatever the new owners like.
The DMU zoning category of the two adjacent parcels would allow a project at this site to rise up to 200 feet under the Downtown Density Bonus Program, nothing to sneeze at in this corner of the central city — and although we’re admittedly connecting a lot of dots ourselves, based on the parties involved we have a pretty good hunch about what might get built here. AJ Capital Partners is a hospitality company first and foremost, and one of their premiere investments is the Graduate Hotels brand, a chain of boutique lodgings targeted to the culture of college towns. Take a gander at this quote from an article on the hotels back in 2018 and tell me whether you think it’s interesting that Austin’s the first city our guy mentions:
“We recognized an opportunity to create unique, community-centric lodging in university-anchored markets,” says Tim Franzen, president of Graduate Hotels. “That, coupled with the fact that most of these markets had nothing but cookie-cutter chain hotels, we knew right away that we had a winning combination.”
Franzen says the company will be aggressive in its expansion.
“We also have Austin, Boulder, Princeton and Cambridge high on our list of target markets,” he says.
Considering this site’s location south of the University of Texas campus, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to think the announcement of a Graduate Hotel Austin might be forthcoming here. Assuming your tinfoil hat is firmly secured, check out another clue — the URL structure of the Graduate Hotels site is pretty simple, so if you want to look at, say, the page for the upcoming Graduate Hotel Dallas, you just visit graduatehotels.com/dallas. Type in some gibberish like graduatehotels.com/fakecity or graduatehotels.com/houston and you get a standard “404 not found” page. Now smash that link for graduatehotels.com/austin and what do you find instead? A WordPress login, indicating the page is only visible to registered users — possibly because that page is under construction. Maybe we’ll find out more next month, huh?