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Council Tentatively Approves Gables Project

Developers of a residential tower and boutique hotel resolve differences with neighbors

By Amy Smith, Fri., Feb. 22, 2013

Gables Republic Square and Hotel ZaZa are planned for West Fourth, between Lavaca and Guadalupe.
Gables Republic Square and Hotel ZaZa are planned for West Fourth, between Lavaca and Guadalupe.

A planned Downtown hotel and residential tower gained initial City Council approval Feb. 14 after a last-minute agreement was reached between the developer and residents of a neighboring condo. But Council delayed a final vote on the zoning change until Feb. 28 to allow some Council members time to digest the complicated case and examine whether the project's benefits to the community represent a fair exchange for the upzoning to allow additional height.

Gables Residential plans to build a residential tower and a luxury hotel on West Fourth, between Lavaca and Guadalupe. The project, Gables Republic Square and Hotel ZaZa, will include 216 multifamily units and a 160-room boutique hotel. Hotel ZaZa is a small Texas chain with locations in Dallas and Houston. Residents of the nearby Plaza Lofts at Fifth and Guadalupe had opposed the location of the development's six-level parking garage directly south of their building. But after a few weeks of haggling between attorneys, Gables agreed to alter the design of the parking structure to diminish its impact on the neighbors. In a statement announcing the agreement, Gables said the project will create 350 construction jobs, 212 permanent jobs, and generate more than $3.5 million annually in taxes.

On Thursday, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole moved to approve the requested rezoning on all three readings, but Council Members Laura Morrison, Bill Spelman, and Kathie Tovo wanted further review of the project, including a deeper review of community benefits the development would offer in exchange for the additional height. Morrison's friendly amendment to do just that passed unanimously, although Mayor Lee Leffingwell noted his irritation with Tovo for raising the issue of affordable housing when the agenda item only called for an up-or-down vote on the rezoning.

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