Developer to spend $220M on new Austin hotels; Popular McDonald’s to be demolished

White Lodging Services Inc., which has brought several Austin hotels online including the mammoth JW Marriott downtown, is gearing up to build more two hotels in Austin — the Marriott Cesar Chavez Hotel across the street from the Austin Convention Center and the combined Autograph Collection/AC Hotel by Marriott at 1901 San Antonio St. near the University of Texas.

Paperwork for both projects has been filed at the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration with a projected groundbreaking in May. Neither of the hotel sites is owned by White Lodging.

The two hotels represent a collective investment of $220 million, according to public records.

Headquartered in Merrillville, Indiana, White Lodging is the dominant hotel developer in the Austin area. It independently owns and operates numerous hotels here, including the Westin Austin Downtown and the Westin Austin at The Domain. It also owns a variety of other Marriott brands — more suburban hotels to extended stay brands.

To make way for the Autograph/AC project, White Lodging is in the process of securing permission to demolish the McDonald’s restaurant at 414 W. Martin Luther King Blvd. That particular McDonald’s, sporting a longhorn sculpture outside, attracts substantial business from UT students and people commuting throughout that busy area.

Documents at the city of Austin show that White Lodging is changing the address for the hotel to 1901 San Antonio St.

The 613-room Marriott Cesar Chavez Hotel proposed for 304 E. Cesar Chavez Drive will be built on a parcel owned by South 1/2 Block 8 Venture, an entity with an address in Kingsland, Texas, about an hour’s drive northwest of Austin, according to the Travis Central Appraisal District.

The Autograph/AC parcel on the southwest fringe of the UT campus is owned by Washoe Co., an affiliate of the Finley Co. — an Austin company with extensive real estate and oil and gas interests.

Though the Finley Co. prefers to maintain a low profile, the company owns significant real estate assets, including two properties that have previously been developed on its behalf by White Lodging — the JW Marriott at Second Street and Congress Avenue, which opened in 2015, and the Aloft/Element hybrid hotel under construction at Seventh Street and Congress Avenue.

The JW Marriott has been a game changer for Austin’s hospitality industry, drawing big revenue in a variety of ways — hotel guests, meetings and events and restaurant business. It almost always tops the Austin-area liquor-sales charts. The Travis Central Appraisal District most recently valued the 1,000-room hotel at $275 million.

The Aloft/Element hybrid hotel, which I recently profiled, is scheduled to open this summer.

Source: Austin Business Journal
Jan Buchholtz, Senior Staff Writer

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