NO LONGER A TRUMP PROP­ERTY: DE­TAILS ON AUSTIN HO­TEL PLAN

33-story Ho­tel Mirabeau will be op­er­ated by the Capella Ho­tel Group.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Shonda No­vak sno­vak@states­man.com

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 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 Trump­branded 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.”

CON­TRIB­UTED BY EMPYREAN DE­VEL­OP­MENT

A de­vel­oper plans to build the Ho­tel Mirabeau on Red River Street, now home to a Brick Oven pizza restau­rant.

LINDA SCOTT / STAFF

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