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It's Not All Falling Glass in Austin as Two Convention Hotels Get Underway

July 1, 2011 at 2:00 PM | by | ()

Well, it looks like Austin does have room in their hearts—and their wallets—to accommodate the $4.3 million break in development fees for Austin's newest mega-hotel, a 1,003-room Marriott Marquis. The Austin City Council decided on Wednesday that an influx of steady jobs, the reliable hotel tax base, and new lodging (the city is home to several conventions and trade shows, not least of which is the wildly popular South By Southwest) would outweigh the inconveniences of construction.

An article by the Statesman alluded to another major hotel construction project also commencing in Austin, this time by Manchester Financial Group (Grand Del Mar, San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina)—so it looks like Austin will be treated to some dueling convention hotel action over the next few years! The Marriott Marquis' developer, White Lodging Services, however, has an impressive portfolio of 162 various iterations of the Marriott and Hilton brands. So we're not too surprised we learned of their project before Manchester's.

Upon visiting White Lodging's website, we saw the Marriott Marquis is actually their second development project currently in Austin. The 17-floor Hyatt Place Downtown Austin will go up right across the street from the Austin Convention Center, and will be their 21st Austin hotel. We don't often hear about the big spenders behind such developments as Marriott and Hilton, but it's interesting to see how and where they choose to expand their empires.

Two council members opposed the $4.3 million waivers, and Austinist sums up the arguments nicely:

"Almost every development creates jobs and additional tax revenue. Development fees also generate revenue. Revenue can be used to feed starving children, save puppies from euthanasia, extend swimming pool hours, build racetracks, whatever. That's all fine, but granting fee waivers to select developers is unfair to the developers that don't seek (or don't receive) fee waivers and it wastes the time and money of developers, city staff, and council members themselves.

City council should make rules that apply to everyone instead of giving multi-million dollar gifts to whoever begs the loudest."

We just hope the hotel windows are secure.

[Photo: Austinist]

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