East Side Hotel Changes Course
Developers withdraw permit application
By Tony Cantú,
4:50PM, Fri. Jul. 31, 2015
The real estate developers hoping to build a 65-room hotel on the city’s Eastside – a proposal facing widespread community opposition – have withdrawn their appeal of an earlier rejection of their application for a conditional use permit days before City Council was scheduled to hear it.
Gentrification-weary residents scored a victory on June 9, when the city’s Planning Commission denied the application. The hotel would have been built at 1207 E. Cesar Chavez. “This is an emotional victory for us because so many doubted us,” said Bertha Delgado, president of the East Town Lake Citizens Neighborhood Association, on Friday afternoon. “We were able to take a stand, united together as one to fight against this monster development,” she said, referring to the various neighborhood associations who joined forces in opposing the project.
Alberto Martinez, chair of the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Planning Team, was similarly elated: “We want to thank [District 3] Councilman Pio Renteria and the residents of East Austin who worked so hard to uphold the East Cesar Chavez Neighborhood Plan,” he said in a statement. “We would also like to thank the developers of the proposed East Side Hotel, represented by Brian and Bree Carrico, for withdrawing their request for a conditional use permit. We look forward to working with Brian and Bree Carrico on their future endeavors.”
Brian Carrico, who has acted as spokesman for the hotel investment group, did not immediately return a telephone call from the Chronicle. Renteria also was unavailable, although he did issue a statement earlier in the day, saying, "Today at City Hall I met with Mr. Brian Carrico, the applicant for the proposed East Side Hotel. He informed me that after listening to the concerns of the community, he has decided to withdraw the appeal to Council and will begin looking for a new location that better aligns with the Neighborhood Plan."
Residents of the Eastside have long decried the brisk pace of the commercial development overrunning their established neighborhoods, and had galvanized in opposition to this latest large-scale project. In opposing the plans, they cited the likelihood of increased traffic along East Cesar Chavez resulting from a development they categorized as out of scale with the existing neighborhood.
Given the Carricos’ unavailability for comment at press time, it was unclear what the plans now are for the acreage they and their financial backers purchased in pursuit of their hotel construction. It’s also unknown whether the Carrico-led team will explore other potential sites for their hotel.
Despite the victory for the neighborhood, some residents didn’t fare well: Anticipating future construction after buying the property from former owners Daniel P. Vasquez and Robert P. Vasquez last year, six families living amidst the footprint for the envisioned hotel were displaced from their homes, having been given only a few months' notice before vacating.
Still, neighborhood activists were joyful as news of the withdrawal spread. For Delgado, news of the withdrawn application adds to an already celebratory mood: The restored La Loteria mural that Eastside artists re-created after it was painted over earlier this year will be unveiled at a music-filled celebration scheduled tomorrow at 1619 E. Cesar Chavez from 6pm to 10pm. The aborted hotel plans add will likely add to tomorrow’s festivities: “We’re overwhelmed with joy right now as we share the good news with the community,” Delgado said. “We’re ready to celebrate.”