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Austin CBD to gain 2 hotels

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CBD to gain two hotels

Marriott developer expects to break ground in January

Colin Pope

Austin Business Journal Staff

After a rocky start, plans are moving forward to build two Marriott hotels next to the Austin Convention Center.

Merrillville, Ind.-based White Lodging Services Corp. could turn dirt in January on a site directly across the street from the new Hilton in downtown Austin, caddy-corner to the new entrance to the Austin Convention Center. White Lodging plans to build two 12-story Marriott properties on half a block at Fourth and Trinity streets.

The plan has been uncertain for months, but now that the city's historic preservation team has decided an old warehouse on the site isn't historically significant enough to save from demolition, White Lodging is seeking a demolition permit, says Ben Turner, president of Austin-based Consort Inc. Consort has been hired to push the plan through the city's development review process.

Turner says he expects to have a demolition permit in hand by the end of the year. Once that's received, White Lodging will move ahead with a plan that will add 447 rooms -- or 366,000 square feet of hotel space -- to downtown.

Turner says White Lodging, which has developed nearly two dozen hotels in the Austin area, intends to build two hotels side by side: a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn by Marriott. Each will have an undetermined amount of meeting space, Turner says.

The Hilton across the street -- which will be the largest hotel in Austin -- will have 800 rooms and 55,000 square feet of conference space. It is scheduled to open in January.

Tyler McDonald, director of sales and marketing at the Hilton, says the hotel isn't worried about the added competition. In fact, he says, the Marriotts could help bolster Austin's efforts to attract big conferences to the newly expanded convention center.

"On occasion, [the Marriotts] can fit in the scope of a very large convention," Tyler says. "But mainly, it will enhance Austin as a package and improve our competitive position. The more infrastructure you have, the more appealing you become."

Putting two smaller hotels next to each other is consistent with White Lodging's strategy to accommodate a wider range of customers. The company has a history of pairing an extended-stay hotel offering relatively large suites with a more traditional hotel that provides a combination of rooms and suites in greater numbers.

White Lodging manages about 75 properties in nine states, many of which are franchised from Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc.

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In a way I hate to see Austin get big. It is such a great place now and has been for quite some time. If it gets too big, I'm afraid it will lose its college oriented feel.

25,000 rooms

from the austin biz journal

The convention center is the city's major meetings business magnet. Its $110-million renovation, completed in May 2002, more than doubled the 10-year-old building's exhibit space.

It offers 250,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space, a 43,300-square-foot ballroom, and 61,400 square feet of meeting rooms and offices. A fiber-optic communications network, a boardroom with built-in audiovisual equipment and regional cuisine catering round out the offerings of the expanded facility.

Lander says the convention center is approximately 70 percent booked through 2003. At year's end, there will have been 52 convention-center-related events that used the center and at least two hotels.

The city's roughly 25,000 hotel rooms were 60 percent occupied from Jan. 1 to July 31, flat compared to last year. Yet, downtown hotels experienced a two-point increase during the same time period, topping out at 66 percent occupied.

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Yeah, Austin does have a nice charm about it, that with some size, would be missed. It would be possible for Austin to continue to grow and maintain a lot of it's charm, but will be difficult and you can already seen it changing.

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Courtyard by Marriott

270 rooms

7,000 sf of meeting space

marriottcyaustinmain5jo.jpg

Residence Inn by Marriott

179 rooms

marriottriaustinmain7gr.jpg

Both are scheduled to open in June 2006

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The Austin American-Staesman reported that two more hotels are likely coming to downtown Austin. Hixon properties might be ready to move on some property they purchased three years ago and it seems Starwood Hotels & Resorts is ready to move into the Austin market. From the article:

Hixon bought the land in the Warehouse District three years ago from a partnership that included former Schlotzsky's Inc. executives John and Jeff Wooley. But the San Antonio-based company shelved plans for a 350-room upscale hotel as the travel industry struggled in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks.

John Beauchamp, Hixon's vice president for acquisitions and development, confirmed that his company has revived its project but wouldn't discuss details, including the size or what hotel banner it will bear.

In 2002, rumors were that the site would become a W hotel, Starwood's trendy upscale brand, where rooms can cost $400 a night. At the time, the plans included possibly razing the Bitter End.......

.....Starwood, based in White Plains, N.Y., recently rolled out plans for a lower-cost version of W, which for now is called Project XYZ.

The new hotels will include pools, bars and outdoor areas for socializing, with rooms costing between $100 and $150 a night.

"We've identified Austin as an ideal site for an XYZ," said KC Kavanagh, a Starwood spokeswoman. "It's a vibrant market, a young market, and the fact that it's a college town is ideal. I think it will be a hit in Austin."

The other hotel would be a part of Tom Stacy's proposed mixed-use tower that would also include condominiums and retail. If built it would be Austins' tallest building at 41 stories.

Full article at: http://www.statesman.com/business/content/.../06/9hotel.html

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Another hotel chain may be looking into opening in Austin. Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group is looking at expansion possibilities in southern cities and adding 4-5 hotels annually.

As it keeps growing, Kimpton typically buys an older hotel in a major market, sinks significant capital into renovation and opens it under one of its boutique brands, including Monaco and Palomar. The company has nearly 40 boutique hotels and restaurants in the United States and Canada.

A Kimpton hotel would be well-suited for Austin, says John Keeling, senior vice president of PKF Consulting Inc. in Houston, which tracks the hotel industry.

"Kimpton hotels are contemporary, not too chic, not too trendy, but very comfortable. It's the type of hotel that has gotten good acceptance in the markets they're in," Keeling says. "I think Austin is a natural fit for Kimpton."

Austin Business Journal: Upscale hotel chain may open in Austin

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The Bitter End Bistro & Brewery will not reopen after an August fire because Hixon Properties plans to build a hotel at the site (post #7). The existing building may be incorporated into the hotel design.

The hotel is "pretty far along" in the design stage, Clemons said, although he does not know what flag it will carry.

Austin American-Statesman: Bitter End won't rise again

News 8 Austin: Hotel to replace Bitter End

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The 179-room Residence Inn by Marriott and 270-room Courtyard by Marriot are nearing completion and are scheduled to open in August. The developer, White Lodging Services Corp., announced plans recently for a three hotel complex containing a total of 1,000-rooms at Second & Congress. When all of their projects are complete, White Lodging will have a total of 19 hotels in Austin with over 3,100 rooms.

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Austin American-Statesman: White Lodging makes a bigger bet on Austin

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The Residence Inn by Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott will be opening on Friday adding 449 rooms to the downtown market.

The 179-room Residence Inn and the adjacent 270-room Courtyard by Marriott at 300 E. Fourth St. are opening in time for the University of Texas football season, when eight home games are expected to draw about 80,000 fans. Another 100,000 people are expected to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Sept. 15-17.

Amenities at the Courtyard include a Champion's Restaurant and Sports Bar, a guest laundry, and a lobby level business library. The Residence Inn has one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchens. Other amenities include a heated indoor pool, a rooftop terrace with grilling area, and event and meeting spaces.

Austin American-Statesman: Austin's 2 newest hotels to open Friday

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Champions Restaurant & Sports Bar opened on Friday at the southeast corner of the new dual Marriott complex.

The restaurant also gives Austin its first outdoor electronic ticker tape, which wraps around the outside of the building with a continuous display of sports scores, menu specials, and daily events.

Austin Business Journal: Sports bar, restaurant unveiled downtown

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