Is Austin the Next San Diego?
Austin today is reminiscent of San Diego 15 years ago. Since, the Cali city has bulked up its hotel offerings and become a top 10 convention center market. Will Austin follow suit?
Manchester Financial president Doug Manchester (we snapped the native San Diegan with dwg’s Daniel Woodroffe at Bisnow’s Future of Downtown Austin event last week) was involved in making San Diego a primo convention market. He visited Austin in 2010 and was electrified by the city and the possibilities of making us a top 10 convention city. The biggest challenge: a dramatic drought in hotel supply, which caused us to lose 390 conventions last year. That's why Doug (who's building the second-largest Fairmont Hotel in the world here) doesn’t fear competition from the JW Marriott—building both will induce demand by allowing us to hotel large groups.
Austin already has the most livable Downtown in Texas, says Riverside Resources partner John Needham, also a panelist, but our trajectory has really only just begun. We’re a quarter of the way to our Downtown living goal of 25,000 residents. He's building Fifth + West, which will feature a lot of three- and four-bedroom units. That’s not typical these days, but John (pictured with Kelly Behrmann) says he got a lot of inquiries about larger units when he built the Whitley. Much of that demand came from empty nesters and from out-of-towners who want a place to stay when they come to Austin for football games and music festivals. The Whitley will also be for-sale condos because there’s so little quality product available Downtown.
Our sponsor Clean Scapes Landscaping’s Jeff Pulley (in action here with HMCB Capital Partners’ Michael Perkins) is handling the landscaping on many of Downtown’s big projects under construction, including Green Water Block 1, 3Eleven Bowie, 7 Rio Apartments, 5th & Colorado and Block 51/IBC Bank Plaza. Clean Scapes also did the Austonian, Four Seasons Residence Tower, the W Hotel and Hanover’s The Ashton (101 Colorado).