Still on the rise

Luxury Austin hotel once linked to Trump brand gets new lease on life

Luxury Austin hotel once linked to Trump brand gets new lease on life

Waterloo Park Moody Foundation grant rendering 2017
The hotel would be adjacent to Waterloo Park on Red River Street. Rendering courtesy Waller Creek Conservancy

The saga continues for a luxury hotel set to be built on the downtown Austin site of a Brick Oven restaurant, with a new developer now in place to shepherd the project. A hotel has been envisioned for the site for a number of years, with the Trump name attached to the project at one point.

Under a new agreement with the owner of the Brick Oven property, Lakeway-based hotel advisory and investment firm Hesperus Group LLC has taken the reins of the proposed hotel, the Austin Business Journal reported July 17. The previous developer, Empyrean Development LLC, quit the project following a nearly 14-month construction delay, according to documents filed with the City of Austin.

The Hesperus website indicates the firm has been involved in luxury hotel projects in the District of Columbia, Miami, New York City, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Italy, Mexico, and Russia.

Alan Nalle, owner of the Brick Oven property, is seeking a one-year extension of the hotel’s previously approved site plan to allow extra time for design and construction details to be hammered out with the new developer, the documents show. The Austin City Council approved the site plan in June 2017; it’s scheduled to expire in June 2020.

At the heart of the construction delay was the now-finished Waller Creek tunnel project. According to the documents, construction on the tunnel postponed work on the hotel for more than a year. That led to Empyrean’s inability to line up financing for the hotel, so it was forced to drop out of the project, the documents show.

The latest paperwork filed with the city calls for a 24-story, 256-room hotel at 1201 Red River St., near Waterloo Park and Dell Seton Medical Center. Previously, the project — then 33 stories high with 297 rooms — was called Hotel Mirabeau. The most recent documents refer to it as Waterloo Park Tower, which was its original name.

In April 2015, a building permit application for the 24-story Waterloo Park Tower expired. The following year, The New York Times reported that the $130 million Austin Mirabeau Trump Hotel, which was linked to the Trump Organization, was planned for the Brick Oven property. But in March 2017, Empyrean revealed the Trump brand would no longer be associated with the hotel.

Attempts by CultureMap to reach the landowner and the new developer for comment were unsuccessful.