28-Story Downtown Austin Hotel Tower Plan Moves Forward at Fifth and Lavaca – TOWERS

Image: Merritt Development Group

The dual-branded Embassy Suites and Motto by Hilton hotel tower planned by local hospitality firm Merritt Development Group for a 0.27-acre assembly at the southeast corner of West Fifth and Lavaca Streets in downtown Austin is showing some notable signs of progress this week, with the first development-related filing for the 28-story building now under review with the city.

According to current permit data, the project is a 454-key hotel, with 268 rooms under the Embassy Suites brand and 186 under Hilton’s recently-founded Motto “micro-hotel” flag. A summary by the developer earlier this year indicated the tower would contain 7,700 square feet of meeting space and approximately 15,000 square feet of retail, including a “prominent national steakhouse” brand occupying 11,000 square feet between the first and second levels of the lobby area, with another unknown retail business occupying the remaining 4,000 square feet of ground-level space.

Image: Merritt Development Group

Image: Merritt Development Group

Having received the approval of its demolition permit by the Historic Landmark Commission earlier this year, the project is now free to clear the two adjacent buildings occupying the corner at 209 and 213 West Fifth Street — the 209 storefront is vacant, but the 213 building at the corner is currently the home of ping pong-themed bar Smash ATX, which will presumably need to relocate in the near future assuming demolition moves forward.

A current view of the adjacent 209 and 213 West Fifth Street storefronts, set to eventually be demolished for the construction of the new Hilton-branded hotel tower by Merritt Development Group. Image: City of Austin

While neither meets the qualifications for historic landmark status, both buildings now standing here are approximately 100 years old, each originally built as automotive businesses. The corner structure is best known as the home of longtime local blues club Anton’s from 1997 to 2013, one of many locations the itinerant venue has occupied since its founding on Sixth Street 45 years ago in July 1975 — but during the 1920s, the site serviced Exide brand car batteries.

A view of the Exide Battery service station at 213 West Fifth street during the 1920s. Image: City of Austin

A view of the corner circa 2013, then occupied by Antone’s. Image: City of Austin

While a specific date for construction isn’t yet specified for the project, its continuing progression through the city’s development process and clearance of pre-demolition historical review implies that major changes to the corner will arrive sooner or later — so if you’d like to appreciate the life of these century-old structures, there’s still plenty of time left for a few games of ping pong.

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