Featured Image (above): Conceptual rendering of AC Hotel by Marriott from Mary Avenue and South 6th Street. Image: NORR Architects and Engineers
by Edmond Ortiz
Waco (McClennan County)–There’s a hotel construction boom in Waco, and Marriott is in the mix with plans for a five-story, 182-room hotel in the downtown area.
According to city documents, an AC Hotel by Marriott is proposed for development at the southeast corner of South 6th Street and Mary Avenue. SRH Hospitality Waco Downtown Investments LLC (SRH) is the project owner/applicant.
The $40.4 million project will face Mary Avenue and include a small restaurant, a bar/lounge with outdoor and streetscape seating, a 19,963-square-foot executive conference center, a two-story commercial/retail shell component, and a five-level parking garage.
The conference center will feature an 8,000-square-foot ballroom divisible into five salons, and an adjacent 4,300-square-foot terrace area. The conference center will be located on the hotel’s western side, and offer some surface parking opportunities.
The conference center is described in city documents as being “a significant addition to Waco and complement the existing Waco Convention Center.”
Site plan for AC Hotel by Marriott. Image: NORR Architects and Engineers
Other amenities for hotel guests will include a club-level fitness center, media salon meeting rooms, and a 1,300-square-foot exterior pool with surrounding terrace.
The two-story shell commercial/retail component will face South 6th Street, measure 18,010 square feet and include a 2,760-square-foot rooftop terrace.
New construction of hotel and executive conference center will total 112,939 square feet.
The 113,003-square-foot garage, located behind the hotel and accessible from Jackson Avenue, will have 327 parking spaces distributed among hotel users and the public.
The developer also proposes public site improvements around the hotel property, including a wider sidewalk, landscaping, trees, and the installment of antique lighting fixtures.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to start by July 2020 and wrap up in December 2021. The hotel will replace a building once operated by Olmsted-Kirk Paper Co., which months ago announced plans to relocate its Waco facility to another spot in town.
The entire project will cover 2.48 acres across two neighboring parcels – the site of the 24,713-square-foot Olmsted-Kirk building and a vacant piece of land.
McClennan County Appraisal District has both parcels valued at a total of $2.87 million. Projected construction materials include brick, metal panel, insulated stucco, and some storefront glazing.
SRH requested $10.6 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) from the city to help fund facade and public upgrades, including development of the public part of the parking garage, relocation of existing overhead power lines, and other utility improvements.
The TIF board voted Aug. 8 to approve city staff’s recommendation to grant the developer $8.72 million toward the project. City Council will consider the TIF board’s recommendations for final approval at a time to be determined.
First floor plan for AC Hotel by Marriott. Image: NORR Architects and Engineers
According to city documents, SRH says “AC Hotels by Marriott joins modern hotel design and operations with a European flair. Such design is born of the entrepreneurial spirit of renowned Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan who developed numerous AC hotels throughout Europe starting in 1998.”
There are 133 AC Hotels by Marriott open worldwide, with 42 of them in the United States.
SRH adds in the documents that its new hotel in Waco “will be a further cornerstone to future downtown and Mary Avenue pedestrian development and bring amenities and features not presently in the Waco downtown market.”
AC Hotel by Marriott would be SRH’s first Waco development. The company currently operates three other Texas hotel properties–a Marriott in Pflugerville, a Hyatt in Cedar Park, and a Hampton Inn in Frisco. The company is presently developing other hotel properties in four other Texas cities.
Conceptual rendering of AC Hotel by Marriott, facing the parking garage and adjacent commercial/retail section along Jackson Avenue. Image: NORR Architects and Engineers
Hotel development has increased in the Waco area lately. Two planned separate hotel projects in downtown Waco – Hyatt Place and Embassy Suites – are slated to receive TIF funds. Both of those hotel developments will involve parking structures with public spaces.
Elsewhere in Waco, Marriott is building a SpringHill Suites hotel and an Aloft hotel, and InterContinental Hotels Group plans to build a Staybridge Suites.
Edmond Ortiz is a lifelong San Antonian and a 20-plus-year veteran in local journalism, He previously worked full-time at the San Antonio Express-News, and has been freelancing for outlets such as the Rivard Report.