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  #41  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2008, 5:02 PM
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I think its boxy and predictable, but beggars can't be choosers.

One more surface parking lot is history!!!

Plus, the pool area promises some new skyline views that I'll be interested to see.
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  #42  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2008, 5:17 PM
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Looks pretty good. See that view of the Weston Centre in the 2nd pic? I'm gonna miss that view
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  #43  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2008, 7:15 PM
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I like it, its a good addition to the density in that area. And it looks like it'll add more retail to that end of the Riverwalk, so that's a good thing too.
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  #44  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2008, 8:04 PM
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Wow i didnt know they started work on it. Thats kewl. Will be awesome in that location. True another parking lot put to dust...

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  #45  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2008, 8:45 PM
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Is it just me or does this rendering look backwards?

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  #46  
Old Posted Jun 25, 2008, 9:17 PM
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Originally Posted by JACKinNYC View Post
Is it just me or does this rendering look backwards?

looks odd, but that is it.

the river is on the right and the broad side of the building is set back, assumedly to provide more sunshine to the riverwalk (as per city regs), leaving it almost lurching backwards.
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  #47  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2008, 8:15 PM
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This article tells a little bit about the history of Embassy Suites in downtown, and also mentions the "proposed" Piazza San Lorenzo. Has PSL not been fully approved? This could explain the prolonged delay in its ground breaking. . .

~~~~

Work begins on River Walk Embassy Suites

Web Posted: 06/25/2008 10:11 PM CDT

By Creighton A. Welch
Express-News

Construction on the latest River Walk hotel is under way, and downtown San Antonio soon will have its first Embassy Suites.

A former surface parking lot is being turned into a 281-room hotel that should be open by September 2009.

The site, across the River Walk from the International Bank of Commerce and bordered by Houston, Soledad and Travis streets, will help provide an anchor for redevelopment in the area.

As the name implies, Embassy Suites is known for having suites with separate living rooms and bedrooms.

“I think this is perfect for the River Walk because it will do just fine with the commercial traveler, but the hotel also tends to draw a lot of family business,” Jim Holthouser, senior vice president of brand management for Embassy Suites, said in an interview.

Rooms at the Hilton-owned hotel chain average $157 per night, and rooms at this hotel should be more than that, Holthouser said.

The 16-story hotel also will include 12,000 square feet of meeting space and lease space for a yet-to-be-named restaurant. And as with other Embassy Suites, this one will offer free breakfast and an open bar for two hours each night.

All these perks help make the hotel attractive for several demographics.

“It's a very popular brand for a traveler who wants to do business in their hotel room because they have a living area and a sleeping area,” said Bruce Walker, president of Source Strategies Inc., a local hotel consulting firm.

“It's great for a family because mom and dad get the bedroom and the little kids get the pull-out couch. And it's great for two poor couples who can share one of those rooms. Everybody loves Embassy Suites, particularly in a leisurely town like San Antonio, because you get your free breakfast and your free booze so life is good.”

Because there are more than 13,000 hotel rooms available downtown, the impact of this hotel in the market will be small, Walker said.

But Holthouser thinks visitors will flock to it.

“I think the power of this brand is such that it will pull business from other parts of the River Walk,” he said. “It will increase traffic on that part of the River Walk.”

The new hotel has the potential to affect redevelopment along the River Walk and on Houston Street.

“That corner is an anchor, so I think you're going to start seeing things happening in the middle,” said Greg Gallaspy, executive director of the Paseo del Rio Association. “With the development efforts along Houston Street, I think the hotel can only be successful.

The most important thing, though, is that this is a crucial piece of real estate on the River Walk that will help development back south to Main Plaza.”

Federal Realty Investment Trust, which owns several properties along Houston Street, developed the Hotel Valencia and is working on other projects along Houston Street in an effort to increase tourist and retail activity.

In April, the city unveiled a redeveloped Main Plaza. In between it and the future Embassy Suites sit several River Walk sites Gallaspy said were underutilized and might be redeveloped soon, including the proposed Piazza San Lorenzo condo and retail mixed-use space.

This will be the third Embassy Suites in San Antonio. The existing hotels are on Briaridge Drive on the Northwest Side and on U.S. 281 near the airport.

At one point, an Embassy Suites was considered for downtown. According to San Antonio Express-News articles, in 1999, Hilton Palacio del Rio blocked an Embassy Suites project because Hilton bought Embassy Suites that year, making the two properties competitors within the same family of hotels. The project eventually became the Hotel Contessa.
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  #48  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2008, 8:22 PM
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Originally Posted by oldmanshirt View Post
This article tells a little bit about the history of Embassy Suites in downtown, and also mentions the "proposed" Piazza San Lorenzo. Has PSL not been fully approved? This could explain the prolonged delay in its ground breaking. . .
I'll email Creighton A Welch to see if he knows something we don't.
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  #49  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2008, 9:07 PM
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Here is my gracious (and speedy) reply from SA EN business writer Crieghton Welch:

Quote:
Hi Kyle,

Unfortunately, I don't know much about the project either. All the marketing materials are still up in the building right there at Houston Street and the River Walk, and Greg Gallaspy seems to thing it might get started someday. But alas, no movement.

Some county records show some lending activity, but nothing too serious. And who knows what all that means.

Sorry I couldn't be any more help!

- Creighton
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  #50  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2008, 9:11 PM
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Oh well, thanks for trying!
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  #51  
Old Posted Jun 26, 2008, 9:20 PM
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Here's the email I received from Terri Rubiola @ D. B. Harrell-So far the plan is yes – however, I am still waiting for a beginning of construction date. It will take 28 months for construction.
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  #52  
Old Posted Jun 28, 2008, 3:16 AM
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I like it. Looks clean.
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  #53  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 12:42 PM
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from http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/met...s.3feb6a8.html



New downtown hotel will uproot trees

By Elaine Ayo

The decision to cut down nine of 11 live oaks along Houston and Soledad streets to make way for a multimillion-dollar hotel has some residents and business owners clamoring for better protection of trees downtown.

The site, now a parking lot, will soon house downtown's first Embassy Suites on a corner that could spark future redevelopment along Houston Street and the River Walk.

But those concerned about the trees said the 281-room hotel shouldn't come at the expense of the trees, some of which were planted as part of a redevelopment project funded by VIA Metropolitan Transit, the city and downtown business owners and completed in the early 1990s.

“A lot of the downtown is very beautiful because of the trees we've left in place,” said Buzz Jellett of Alamo Segway, located nearby. “We have an ambience here and I'd hate to see us lose those trees.”

Concern over the project, which has received approval from the city to cut down the trees, reignites a continuing debate over the strength of the city's tree ordinance and how to balance development with preservation.

“(The Embassy Suites) works with other projects in the area,” said Greg Gallaspy, executive director of the Paseo del Rio Association. “It brings the synergy back down to the downtown area.”

A recent legal battle involving the ordinance, passed in 1997 and strengthened in 2003, revolved around developers trying to clear land outside the city limits in its extraterritorial jurisdiction. In April, a judge overturned a decision forcing developers to replace thousands of trees because their vested rights exempted them from the ordinance, but the judge didn't address the issue of whether the ordinance extends to the extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Other debates have centered on whether to protect trees with shorter life spans, such as the hackberry tree, the same way as those, like the live oak, that can live for hundreds of years.

The Embassy Suites developer, Blanco Rio Ltd., has acquired the permits to cut the trees and was assessed $9,150 that would go to the tree mitigation fund that is dedicated to further planting and preservation programs, according to the city review of the trees on the property and the city's tree preservation ordinance.

In addition to preserving two of the 11 live oaks at the site, the developer will plant six new trees: three cedar elms and three chinquapin oaks.

A representative from District 1 Councilwoman Mary Alice Cisneros' office deferred comment on the issue to City Arborist Debbie Reid, who confirmed developers had complied with the city's tree ordinance.

Mayor Phil Hardberger is traveling outside the country and could not be reached for comment. Calls to the city manager's office were not returned.

The live oaks along Houston Street range from 13 to 22.5 inches in diameter at breast height, the measurement the city uses to classify trees. The live oak on Soledad Street has a DBH of 29.5 inches, qualifying as a heritage tree in the city's ordinance.

Preservation and mitigation fee requirements for heritage long live trees, or tree species capable of living multiple centuries, are three times that of long live trees with a DBH between 6 and 24 inches, Reid said.

The ordinance requires property owners to pay mitigation fees or plant additional trees for reducing the inches of DBH below 40 percent of what was originally there.

Many of the live oaks on Houston Street were planted as part of the TriParty project, a $42 million effort to beautify the area with new pavers, maps and greenery in many parts of downtown.

Concerned Monte Vista resident Emily Thuff said that perhaps the tree ordinance should have included a notification clause to let residents know which trees were under threat of being torn down.

“I just cannot imagine that that is the only place they can make an entry into the property or whatever they are going to do,” said Thuff, who used to work downtown and is concerned about tree preservation there. “The kind of interesting part is that if you're down in that part of town, the shade that those trees cast is half of Houston Street.”

Houston Street is one of downtown resident Joanna Foster's favorite streets, she said, because of the old buildings and the trees lining the street.

“In this very, very hot weather, seeing green and seeing shade is an absolute necessity,” Foster said. “The more trees we have the better.”

Plans to place an Embassy Suites at the site surfaced in 2006, several years after an exclusivity deal derailed another Embassy Suites project because it would pit two Hilton brands against one another.

The 16-story incarnation of the popular hotel brand is set to also have 12,000 square feet of meeting space and a restaurant. It is tentatively set to open in September 2009.

For Gallaspy, controlled growth downtown includes striking a balance between development and preservation.

“The bottom line for me, as long as it is controlled growth, is do you want to be a little city or do you want to be a big city?” he said.
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  #54  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 2:36 PM
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Save the trees. I have to say they really make that part of Houston Street very nice. I hope they dont cut them all down. That would be a shame...

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  #55  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 4:10 PM
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Why do they need to cut them down anyway? It looks like they're right along the sidewalk. They can't build on the sidewalk anyway. Totally unnecessary.
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  #56  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 4:13 PM
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Why do they need to cut them down anyway? It looks like they're right along the sidewalk. They can't build on the sidewalk anyway. Totally unnecessary.
perhaps the entrance to the hotel is on houston...?

plus you have to have delivery bays and whatnot...

(not justifying, just thinking through the reasoning. i really doubt that they would be excited to cut them down. it costs money to do it and the $10,000 to the city. not big money on a $38M project, but i have to believe that the project manager is not thrilled to flush $20 grand...)
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  #57  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2008, 5:37 PM
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perhaps the entrance to the hotel is on houston...?

plus you have to have delivery bays and whatnot...

(not justifying, just thinking through the reasoning. i really doubt that they would be excited to cut them down. it costs money to do it and the $10,000 to the city. not big money on a $38M project, but i have to believe that the project manager is not thrilled to flush $20 grand...)
Their fine was just over $9k.

Looks like they have the entrance right there on Houston St., which I think isn't very smart. It should be away from Houston on Soledad or Travis (like the Guenther); much more room. Houston St. is a narrow 2 lanes and this will only backup traffic. They should have learned that from the Valencia.

You would think they would be looking forward to have the shade just outside the hotel. And they're replacing them with only 6 trees, some are elms. SA developers never cease to disappoint.
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  #58  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2008, 10:11 PM
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The base forms for the first floor columns have been set.
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  #59  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2008, 12:32 AM
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The base forms for the first floor columns have been set.
Wow, already? Shouldn't be too much longer before we see a crane then, right?
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  #60  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2008, 4:54 PM
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its been a month...any updates?
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