|By Shonda Novak, Austin
American-StatesmanMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 26, 2012--Plans are in the works for a 24-story tower in downtown Austin that would have 215 luxury apartments atop a 160-room Hotel ZaZa, which would mark the upscale boutique hotel's Central Texas debut.
Executives with Gables Residential and Hotel ZaZa told the American-Statesman that their project would be built on West Fourth Street between Guadalupe and Lavaca streets. Pending a requested zoning change, they hope to start construction in mid- to late-2013, with the project expected to debut in early to mid-2015. Developers did not release information on an estimated pricetag for the project or financing details.
The half-block site, which is just under an acre, is now used for parking. It once housed the Ginger Man pub, which has since relocated, and the Fox & Hound tavern.
Richard Suttle Jr., an attorney for Gables Residential in Austin, recently filed a zoning case with the city for the project.
Austin's apartment and hotel markets are among the strongest real estate sectors now, Suttle said, "and this is a unique mixed-use project with high-end hotel and luxury apartments." Apartment and hotel rooms under one roof would be the first-of-a-kind pairing for downtown, although there are residential condominiums in the Hilton Austin and the W Hotel downtown.
The project will have multiple restaurants; two pools that would overlook Republic Square Park; meeting spaces and a so-called ZaSpa.
Hotel ZaZa is an exclusive concept that is widely considered to be one of the most successful innovators in the boutique hotel field since it opened in Dallas about 10 years ago. The Dallas hotel has been expanded three times, and was followed in 2007 with the opening of a 315-room ZaZa in Houston's Museum District. Austin would be the third ZaZa.
Hotel ZaZa officials say they have been looking for an Austin location for years.
"Finally we have found the right location at th eright time to expand the Hotel ZaZa in the Austin market," said Charlie Givens, the brand's founder and developer. "Our customer base has wanted ZaZa to establish an Austin property for years. We are very excited about entering the downtown Austin market with this exciting concept."
Benji Homsey, president of Z-Resorts Management LLC, the development and management group in charge of operations and marketing for the brand, said the company is looking for sites in other markets, including New York, Chicago, Southern and Northern California, Miami and Denver.
While the brand has a consistent luxury vibe and aesthetic, ZaZa hotels are not homogeneous but instead feature custom touches tailored to the local market.
"We have great partners, a fun concept, and a wonderful location," said Jennifer Wiebrand, development director for Gables Residential in Austin. "Everything about this project is exciting."
Kevin Burns, founder of Urbanspace Real Estate + Interiors, a real estate and design firm in downtown Austin, said the West Fourth site is "an ideal location" for apartments and a hotel with ZaZa's considerable cache. Burns said the project will help link the Warehouse District to Republic Square , as well as enliven Republic Square with tourists and additional downtown residents.
Gables is now under construction on the second phase of its Gables Park Plaza apartments at North Lamar Boulevard and West Cesar Chavez, on downtown's western edge. Phase two will be an 18-story building with 222 upscale apartments. The first phase has 290 apartments in an eight-story building.
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