The owners of Guero’s Taco Bar on South Congress Avenue are adding a three-story hotel behind the well-known restaurant, a project planned amid a new wave of change sweeping Austin’s storied avenue.
The hotel, currently named Kimber Modern SoCo, will be a new boutique prototype by Austinite Kimber Cavendish. Eight years ago, Cavendish developed the first Kimber Modern hotel, which is located nearby, behind the Continental Club.
Rob Lippincott, who owns Guero’s with his wife and daughters, also owns the proposed hotel site.
The hotel will have 34 rooms and include three and a half levels of underground parking with 68 spaces, Lippincott said. It will be on land that Vulcan Video and Eco-Wise formerly occupied. Both businesses have been razed.
Lippincott said the hotel project is working its way through the city’s approval process. A site plan has been filed with the city, and the developer is seeking fast-track approval, according to Sylvia Arzola, a spokeswoman in the city’s Development Services Department. Lippincott hopes to break ground early next year.
The project also will include retail and event space. Cavendish said she does not yet have a final cost estimate for the project.
“I think we will take this area to another level of awesome design combined with the mix of the ‘Keep Austin Weird’ vibe down here and the modern (hotel) will be a be stupendous and a big draw,” said Cavendish, who just built two houses on Eva Street across from the future hotel.
Cavendish said she and her new business partner, Richard Lent, plan to expand the Kimber Modern brand to both coasts.
Maker Architects is designing the hotel.
Jeff Krolicki, principal architect with Maker, also was involved in other nearby projects, including the South Congress Hotel and the development next to Guero’s that includes Perla’s, Hopdoddy Burger Bar and condominiums.
“South Congress is a truly eclectic district in Austin,” Krolicki said. “We are charged with creating a memorable building, while still being respectful in scale and mass. The building, although not referential to any of its neighbors, will fit well in its context.”
The hotel will include a courtyard that Krolicki said will be “an oasis from the hustle and noise of South Congress and will provide a calming and relaxing space.”
Kimber Modern SoCo will join a growing number of existing or planned boutique hotels in the area. They include the Hotel San Jose, Hotel St. Cecilia, the South Congress Hotel and a hotel planned behind Doc’s Motorworks on South Congress Avenue.
Cavendish said her latest project will complement the area, where a number of new projects are planned.
“This area is so eclectic where all designs and styles can mix and match, which is how the crowd is here as well,” Cavendish said. “It’s one big melting pot of people and retail/design tastes.”
Some residents are worried about the potential for increased traffic from the proposed Kimber Modern project, said Cory Walton, president of the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association.
Homeowners on Eva Street and residents in the condos behind Perla’s “are extremely concerned,” Walton said.
“This is a pretty substantial commercial development with single-family residents right across the street,” Walton said. Property owners “have been doing a lot of outreach to the city. They’re watching this site plan as it goes through the city review process. They’ve also tried to reach out to the developers.”
Raymond Ramirez, who lives on Eva Street, said the project reflects the ongoing “real estate renaissance” taking place on South Congress Avenue.
“I’m concerned that we continue to erode the character, culture and charm that is — or was — South Austin. Nevertheless change is inevitable. In this case, it’s been a challenge embracing change, but I remain optimistic,” Ramirez said.