Artist's rendition of bottom floors of the Fairmont hotel (image from
  • Artist's rendition of bottom floors of the Fairmont hotel (image from
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Texas media are wondering what's holding up the beginning of Papa Doug Manchester's 1035-room hotel in downtown Austin, to be named the Fairmont.

A headline in the Austin Business Journal this week asked, "Hotels abound downtown, but what about the Fairmont?" Wrote the author, "The $350 million question is whether the Fairmont Austin — a 50-story, 1000-room hotel — willl be built." Papa Doug's son, also named Doug, who is in charge of the project, "was adamant last summer that the hotel would break ground in November 2013, but that didn't happen."

A spokesperson for the hotel told the paper that there is no "precise" timeline.

"Randy McCaslin, a hotel expert with PKF Consulting USA in Houston, noted that it might be tough to build another 1000-room hotel at this stage in the game," according to the publication. Experts are predicting that downtown Austin could have a 40 percent increase in hotel rooms in three years (including the proposed Fairmont.) "The market would have a hard time absorbing another 1000 rooms, considering the large number of rooms scheduled to open in 2015, 2016, and 2017," McCaslin told the publication. A 1012-room JW Marriott is expected to open March 1, 2015.

Papa Doug's son told the Austin American-Statesman in a story that ran January 28 that site work began late last year and "will continue as designs are completed, construction costs are nailed down, and our final decisions with respect to financing are made."

I interviewed a hotel expert who didn't want to be named. He said there is a chance that the Austin market could become glutted, considering all the expected new building, and there is a good chance that Manchester is having trouble getting financing. Papa Doug's Grand Del Mar is at best breaking even, he guessed. It's "lovely," but he doesn't see evidence that there is sufficient business, he said.

The Grand Del Mar has been rumored to be troubled in the last couple of years, although some hotel experts think it has been getting healthier.

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shirleyberan Feb. 1, 2014 @ 7:14 p.m.

Are you ready for some Superbowl !? Pepsi at halftime, yuck, I like Bruno Mars music though.


Don Bauder Feb. 1, 2014 @ 7:17 p.m.

shirleyberan: The greatest operatic soprano of today, Renee Fleming, will sing the Star Spangled Banner. That alone makes it exciting. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Feb. 2, 2014 @ 9:46 a.m.

Don: Not an opera fan myself, but it will be refreshing to see someone sing our National Anthem in a classy way, as opposed to the usual butchering of the Anthem by so-called talent at sporting events on a regular basis.


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2014 @ 11:26 a.m.

aardvark: Wait until you hear Fleming sing. You will immediately buy season tickets to San Diego Opera. She has sung in San Diego a couple of times.

I vividly remember her singing the lead in Dvorak's Rusalka in 1995, an opera my wife and I have loved since our marriage in 1962. Fleming was wonderful; San Diego Opera had never been so good. We went on a Friday and I got a ticket to go again on Sunday. But the Chargers were playing in the Super Bowl. I was dressed to go to Rusalka when my youngest son called and said it would be heresy not to watch the Chargers. I did and they got slaughtered. My son has heard about that several times since. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Feb. 2, 2014 @ 8:29 p.m.

Don: I will not be buying season tickets to the opera, but I really enjoyed her version of the National Anthem.


Don Bauder Feb. 2, 2014 @ 9:01 p.m.

aardvark: Yes, it was wonderful. Wouldn't it be ironic if football, the enemy of culture, helps revive it? Best, Don Bauder


aardvark Feb. 3, 2014 @ 3:15 p.m.

If Dougie needs money for his Austin hotel, maybe he should sell the Manchester U-T while it is worth a few million.


Don Bauder Feb. 4, 2014 @ 9:04 a.m.

aardvark: San Diego would be so much better off if Papa Doug would sell that paper -- if he could find a buyer.

Here's a scenario that could play out: Manchester will shift the paper to online-only, or almost online-only, move the operation to cheap rented quarters, and utilize the Mission Valley property for development purposes. He has already taken out entitlements to develop the U-T parking lot. Many of us felt from day one that he bought the paper for real estate purposes. But again, this would depend on his getting financing. And the San Diego market is probably not yet ready for more commercial and residential development. Best, Don Bauder


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