Downtown Austin hotel moving forward — without Trump affiliation


Hotel Mirabeau would have 297 rooms in a 33-story tower.

Start date, financing, to be announced.

Capella Hotel Group tapped as operator.

A developer is releasing new details about a hotel planned for downtown Austin that last fall was linked to the development team of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

This week, however, Empyrean Development said Trump is not involved in the Austin project, which developers are calling Hotel Mirabeau.

“We are focused on moving forward with the current team that has been assembled. Neither Trump Hotels, nor Scion, nor any other affiliate is involved in the development, design, ownership or any other aspect of this project,” Mark Miner, a spokesman for Empyrean, a new company founded by developers Brett Norwich and Craig Bull, said in a written statement.

Empyrean said the 33-story hotel will be operated by Capella Hotel Group. The project will will have 297 rooms and a total of 282,320 square feet of space, according to a fact sheet Miner provided.

“I am very fortunate that I have the opportunity to be a part of such an exceptional project,” Norwich said in a written statement. “I believe that the Hotel Mirabeau will complement one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in the city of Austin and serve as a focal point for both local residents and visitors alike.”

Asked how Trump’s name came to be associated with the proposed hotel development in the first place, Miner’s statement said: “It is normal, appropriate and necessary to speak with many hotel operators to discuss concepts during a diligence period. Our team went through an exhaustive process with some of the largest players nationally and could not be happier that we were able to enjoin our project with Capella Hotel Group.”

Horst Schulze, chairman of Capella Hotel Group, said in a written statement: “We are pleased to team with Empyrean Development to manage, what will be, an iconic hotel in one of the country’s most unique cities. We look forward to being an integral part of the Austin Community.”

Empyrean has not released a projected opening date for the hotel.

The hotel is planned for 1201 Red River, a site currently home to a Brick Oven pizza restaurant. According to documents filed with the city of Austin, a 24-story hotel project called Waterloo Park Tower is in the works for the Brick Oven site. However, Miner said Waterloo Park Tower was an early working name for the project, which has since morphed into Hotel Mirabeau.

The development’s plans call for eight floors of parking with 300 spaces, as well as a rooftop lounge, two swimming pools and an amenity deck, plus seven food and beverage venues.

Miner said financial backers “have been secured and will be announced soon.” Projected room rates have not yet been announced.

Biographical information provided by Miner said Norwich’s background is in entrepreneurship, banking and real estate development. Norwich has worked on retail, restaurant, office and multiple hotel developments, although his biography does not specify any projects.

In September, Norwich filed for personal bankruptcy protection, listing more than $11 million in business-related debt. The filing said that GMR had no assets of value and that his projects had failed over the past two years.

Bull’s résumé said he has more than 24 years of experience in commercial development, having led and managed teams responsible for developing more than $1 billion in hotel, residential, retail, mixed-use, office and industrial properties. Specific projects were not identified.

The new Mirabeau details come after Austin emerged in recent months as a possibly location, first for a Trump-branded hotel, and later, a Scion, a new 4-star concept from Trump’s hotel group.

In an article in October in The New York Times about the Mirabeau project, Jennifer Rodstrom, a Trump Hotels spokeswoman, said: “Our growth strategy is to expand the Trump Hotels portfolio by strategically developing and opening properties in both key U.S. and international locations. “While we do not have a definite project in Austin at this time, we remain interested in key U.S. cities and will continue to explore such opportunities accordingly.”

Rodstrom did not respond to a Tuesday email from the American-Statesman seeking comment.

The Times article said the project’s developers were seeking $40 million in funding from investors, and that construction was to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Times reported the cost of the hotel as $130 million. Asked this week if there was an updated cost figure, Miner said only that “more details will announced in the coming weeks and months.”

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