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Douglas Manchester’s high-rise does not impress

Texas aesthetics

Unlikely that Doug Manchester is going to  sit back and watch the featureless wall on his Fairmont Austin hotel become a projection screen.
Unlikely that Doug Manchester is going to sit back and watch the featureless wall on his Fairmont Austin hotel become a projection screen.

Sidewalk critics of ex–Union-Tribune publisher Douglas Manchester’s under-construction Austin, Texas, high-rise hotel, called the Fairmont Austin, have expressed disappointment with its increasingly frugal appearance, including what photos show to be a five-story featureless wall at street level.

“Holding out hope for a large LED screen on that blank wall,” says a commenter on skyscraperpage.com. Adds another, “If not an LED screen, then something at least... anything but blank.” Notes a third, “Most of the renderings show it blank. The only exceptions are a few that have some small banners on one end of it or the word ‘Fairmont’ on it.” A fourth says, “Put a thousand Barca loungers across the street and watch some movies on that wall.”

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The project, which struggled for years to find financing, finally got off the ground in December 2014 when University of San Diego law school alumnus and Los Angeles celebrity bailout billionaire Thomas Barrack lent $295 million to build it. Before that, Manchester sent his son to China on an unsuccessful mission to raise cash for the project by selling U.S. immigration visas under a federally sponsored program.

Barrack, who, like Manchester, was a member of Donald Trump’s California presidential fundraising committee, had been talked of as the president-elect’s possible pick for Secretary of the Treasury, until the appointment went to Hollywood financier and hedge-fund operator Steven Terner Mnuchin, another Trump money man.


The battle between San Francisco–based short-term room-rental service Airbnb and the local hotel industry and disgruntled neighbors has gotten even more heated with October’s city council throttling of a plan by lame-duck city councilwoman Sherri Lightner to virtually shut down the operation and others like it.

Amid the fray has been the lobbying outfit called Rath Miller, left over from the dregs of political guru Tom Shepard’s influence-peddling firm during the administration of his top client, fallen Democratic mayor Bob Filner. Financial disclosures on file with the city clerk’s office show that the firm operated by Phil Rath and Kimberly Miller, onetime wife of ex-Jerry Sanders public relations honcho Darren Pudgil, got $10,000 during the third quarter of the year from a group calling itself Preserve Our Communities, which has called for tighter restrictions.

Other of the firm’s moneyed clients included fast-food vendor Chick-fil-A, with $7500, and MRW Group, which leases Mission Bay’s Marina Village from the city, $21,000. The United Medical Marijuana Coalition came up with $6000.

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Unlikely that Doug Manchester is going to  sit back and watch the featureless wall on his Fairmont Austin hotel become a projection screen.
Unlikely that Doug Manchester is going to sit back and watch the featureless wall on his Fairmont Austin hotel become a projection screen.

Sidewalk critics of ex–Union-Tribune publisher Douglas Manchester’s under-construction Austin, Texas, high-rise hotel, called the Fairmont Austin, have expressed disappointment with its increasingly frugal appearance, including what photos show to be a five-story featureless wall at street level.

“Holding out hope for a large LED screen on that blank wall,” says a commenter on skyscraperpage.com. Adds another, “If not an LED screen, then something at least... anything but blank.” Notes a third, “Most of the renderings show it blank. The only exceptions are a few that have some small banners on one end of it or the word ‘Fairmont’ on it.” A fourth says, “Put a thousand Barca loungers across the street and watch some movies on that wall.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

The project, which struggled for years to find financing, finally got off the ground in December 2014 when University of San Diego law school alumnus and Los Angeles celebrity bailout billionaire Thomas Barrack lent $295 million to build it. Before that, Manchester sent his son to China on an unsuccessful mission to raise cash for the project by selling U.S. immigration visas under a federally sponsored program.

Barrack, who, like Manchester, was a member of Donald Trump’s California presidential fundraising committee, had been talked of as the president-elect’s possible pick for Secretary of the Treasury, until the appointment went to Hollywood financier and hedge-fund operator Steven Terner Mnuchin, another Trump money man.


The battle between San Francisco–based short-term room-rental service Airbnb and the local hotel industry and disgruntled neighbors has gotten even more heated with October’s city council throttling of a plan by lame-duck city councilwoman Sherri Lightner to virtually shut down the operation and others like it.

Amid the fray has been the lobbying outfit called Rath Miller, left over from the dregs of political guru Tom Shepard’s influence-peddling firm during the administration of his top client, fallen Democratic mayor Bob Filner. Financial disclosures on file with the city clerk’s office show that the firm operated by Phil Rath and Kimberly Miller, onetime wife of ex-Jerry Sanders public relations honcho Darren Pudgil, got $10,000 during the third quarter of the year from a group calling itself Preserve Our Communities, which has called for tighter restrictions.

Other of the firm’s moneyed clients included fast-food vendor Chick-fil-A, with $7500, and MRW Group, which leases Mission Bay’s Marina Village from the city, $21,000. The United Medical Marijuana Coalition came up with $6000.

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