This article by Shonda Novak originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman.
Developers have broken ground on a $130 million mixed-use project at a prime waterfront site just south of Lady Bird Lake that will make Austin the first U.S. site for a new luxury hotel concept.
The Loren at Lady Bird Lake is due to open in early 2022 on land that formerly housed a Taco Cabana restaurant and later, a Pollo Tropical fast-casual eatery.
The Loren property will have 108 guest rooms, all with lake and city views. It also will have 26 condominium units ranging in size from two to four bedrooms, according to a news release.
The eight-story project will have a rooftop restaurant and event facilities with a bar and lounge that open into an outdoor seating area. Amenities will include a luxury spa, gym, swimming pool and retail offerings with a health and wellness theme.
The hotel will be the first Loren-branded property in the U.S. by the developer, C12 Capital Management LP/Sardis Developments, whose hospitality arm is the Loren Hotel Group.
The Loren Hotel Group opened its flagship property, the Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda, in 2017. The New York-based Loren Hotel Group’s founder is international financier and hotelier Stephen King.
The company put the cost of the Austin project at about $130 million.
The Loren Hotel Group said Austin’s quality of life, booming business and job growth, particularly in tech and media sectors, were all key factors. The site is at 211 South Lamar Boulevard and near the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge and Butler Park Pitch & Putt.
“We’re excited to continue the success of the Loren Hotel brand by bringing our next venture to Austin, one of America’s most exciting and fastest growing cities – where we believe the luxury traveler is underserved,” King said in a written statement.
The Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda was ranked as one of the best new hotels in the world by Travel + Leisure last year, and as one of the best hotels in the Caribbean and Bermuda in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards in 2018.
The property at 211 South Lamar is valued at $6.2 million by the Travis Central Appraisal District. It was rezoned in October 2013 ago following a controversial zoning case.
The site had been owned by 16 Piggybank Ltd., an entity controlled by Huston Street, a native Austinite and former University of Texas and major league baseball player.
The developer bought the land from Street, closing on the purchase Oct. 27.
Street, a Westlake High School graduate and former all-American pitcher, played for the Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Angels during his 13-year major league career.
Street and his mother, Janie Street, had planned to develop a residential complex on the site. Under its previous ownership, two development groups planned to build a mixed-use tower with luxury residences and ground-level retail.
“I see the property as extremely cool and want to do the city justice by developing something that long term will result in not only the highest and best use for my financial desires, but also to create a really cool space for the city,” Street told the American-Statesman in 2016.
The Loren Hotel Group said it worked with a number of advisors to make its project a reality, including Hall Structured Finance, a Dallas-based direct private lender; Austin-based Rhode: Partners, the architects and interior designers for the project; the Drenner Group; Hoar 汇丰国际线路检测中心国际线路检测中心; and Fleur-de-lis Interior Design.
Eric Moreland with Moreland Properties, which specializes in the Austin luxury real estate market, is the listing broker for the condominium units.
Brett Rhode with Rhode: Partners said his firm received “substantial design input from the developer, Stephen King” and his team from the Loren at Pink Beach.
“Stephen’s design input was crucial to making Loren at Lady Bird Lake a success,” Rhode said.
The Loren Hotel Group said it will be working with the city of Austin to “substantially upgrade” the parkland on Lady Bird Lake’s southern shore, and working with the nonprofit Foundation Communities to provide a “significant contribution” of land for affordable housing in the South Lamar area.
The Loren company said it has a long-term strategy to build and hold its properties, and plans to expand the Loren brand across the U.S. and beyond.