A new "eco-luxury" hotel was announced last week for the southwest corner of Fifth and Colorado streets, within the Warehouse District recommended for historic preservation by ROMA Austin as part of the Downtown Austin Plan. The two-story brick building at 201 W. Fifth would be demolished; the site could become surface parking in the interim. Starwood Capital Group has requested up-zoning to central business district-central urban redevelopment district for a high-rise, planned at about 200 feet along Fifth Street (potentially dropping to 35 feet on the Warehouse District side). The Design Commission is scheduled to start the city's review process Sept. 29. But ROMA has recommended that council repeal CBD-CURE zoning – which gives away entitlements without requiring specific "density bonus" community benefits – because otherwise its proposed new density-bonus program won't work. Starwood tapped Dallas hotel developer Woodbine (Hyatt Regency Lost Pines) to build the 250-room hotel, part of the new "1" eco-friendly brand. It's the first new Downtown hotel project since the February 2008 announcement of a Westin at Third and Colorado – also in the Warehouse District. At press time, 387 people had signed a petition to preserve the district (www.savethewarehousedistrict.com). For more, see "Can This District Be Saved?," Sept. 11.
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