Hyatt is bringing its new "boutique" brand of hotels to downtown Austin. Construction on the 230-room Hyatt Centric will begin on the corner of Congress Avenue and Eighth Street sometime in mid-2019, according to a press release.
The new hotel will take the place of The Avenue, a massive mixed-use development originally slated for the site. Austinites may remember that project garnering quite a bit of attention when it was announced in 2016, thanks in part to it being billed as both car- and garage-free.
In keeping with The Avenue's original plans, the new hotel will feature a restaurant and bar on the building's ground and second floors, a bar/lounge on the eighth floor, and a terrace overlooking Congress also planned for the eighth floor. The top floors of the 31-story tower will be used as hotel rooms and, yes, the property will remain garage-free.
Today some of Austin's most desirable real estate, the .15-acre lot wasn't always bustling. For more than two decades, the building at 721 Congress Ave. stood vacant. In 2014, Brad Nelsen, managing partner of developer Congress Development Partners, and Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of the Paramount next-door, began musing on possible ways to revitalize the abandoned structure and transform the lot into a vital part of the downtown strip.
"This site, which shares the block with both the historic theaters and The Contemporary Austin, is possibly our most important collection of cultural institutions in downtown," Nelsen explained via release. "We must ensure the vibrancy and long-term viability of this block for future generations.”
Two years later, Congress Development Partners purchased the land and began plans to build a mixed-use development that would bring additional office and living space downtown while also ensuring the future of the Paramount and State. "Our goal [is] to engage the spirit of Austin by redeveloping a neglected site in the heart of the city,” Nelsen said.
With this in mind, the developers enlisted the help of Austin-based Nelsen Partners (of which Nelsen is also a principal) to create a sleek glass tower that would use both the current building in its design and also protect the 104-year-old theaters.
Originally intended for use as office and living space, Congress Development says it's repeatedly been approached by different hoteliers about the tower.
"After talking with interested groups, Congress Development Partners selected Hyatt to co-develop a hotel with a new concept unique to the Austin market that would respect the importance of the historic theaters next door," the developers explained in a release.
Indeed, Hyatt Centric bills itself as helping guests have an "in-the-know local" experience, located "in the center of the action." The first part is hard to quantify, the hotel's primo spot next to the Paramount and State theaters certainly does put it in the middle of the everything.
Among the Hyatt Centric perks are local guides, city-themed rooms, "creative, collaborative event spaces," and other millennial-themed things. The hotel currently operates 29 hotels in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. The Austin property will be the brand's second in Texas.