Editor's note: On Dec. 5, the HDRC gave this project a thumbs up, allowing AMS Real Estate Services to begin rehabbing the structures. As mentioned in the HDRC agenda item, the design review committee had "no concerns about the proposed design." The project will have to return to HDRC for a review of its signage. The Heron will next report on this project then, or when AMS Real Estate Services returns an interview request—or both.
An Austin company plans to refurbish the circa-1906 Book building at 140 E. Houston St., and several adjacent historic structures, into a kind of retail and restaurant complex on the River Walk and street levels with hotel rooms on the upper floors.
Design documents submitted to the city's Office of Historic Preservation do not appear to show any demolition—nor additions—to the existing structures.
The $36 million Veramendi House project by Soledad House LLC, an affiliate of Austin-based AMS Real Estate Services, would add two retail spaces in the Book building facing Houston Street, and a new restaurant on the river level. The Book's upper two floors would be converted into guest rooms.
The adjacent Clegg building, which is hidden behind the River Walk's cypress canopy, would include a restaurant at street level overlooking the river, and guest rooms on floors 2-5.
Around the corner on Soledad Street, the circa-1880 Kennedy and circa-1910 Veramendi buildings, and what remains of the Solo Serve building, would be converted into more guest rooms. A cafe would go into the Kennedy building. A garden of Golden Pothos, lady palms, Natal lilies is planned for the front of the Solo Serve structure.
The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) will consider the project on Wednesday. View the agenda item here.
An interview request in recent weeks to AMS Real Estate Services has not been returned.
Permits filed with the state state that construction is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, but that's dependent upon HDRC approval.
The project would add two more retail spaces to Houston Street, which already has more retail in the works. Next to the Book building, Weston Urban is refurbishing the five retail spaces of the Savoy building. So far, that company has only announced Royal Blue Grocery, which is scheduled to open in February. Farther east on Houston, on the 300 block, GrayStreet Partners is building a food hall in the former children's museum.
On Soledad, Austin-based Merritt Development Group is nearing completion of a nine-story Hampton Inn and Suites/Home2 Suites, for which the other half of the Solo Serve was razed.
At least two previous attempts to renovate the properties failed. The last effort was three years ago, when Dallas developer Woodbine Development proposed a 21-story AC Hotel by Marriott.