City OKs first Albert Hotel permit
After Fredericksburg City Council members brought up memories about the Keidel family, it didn’t take long for them to unanimously approve a conditional use permit to build a hotel in the 200 block of East Austin Street at the council’s Monday meeting.
“It’s exciting,” said Joseph Burkett, a member of the Keidel family, of the vote. “It was kind of funny to hear the city council members talk about my great-great-aunts.”
After the presentation, council members, including Charlie Kiehne and Tom Musselman talked about how they used to know some of the Keidel family members. Mayor Linda Langerhans also brought up the memory of Margaret Keidel and Tillie Keidel and all of their special cats.
“They were really great people and they were always very nice,” Langerhans said.
The project is still in its formative stages, as this was just the vote for the permit. The reason this project had to begin with this step is because it is planned to be in the city’s Central Business District, and any time a hotel project is proposed there, it requires this permit.
The project now needs approval from the Historic Review Board and the city’s Engineering Department.
After this, developers will be eligible for design and construction permits.
So far, all of the feedback they’ve received has been positive, said Matthew Pipken, a real estate broker for Pipken Investments, who is part of the project.
“We try to be very proactive about reaching out to neighbors and letting them know what we’re doing and trying to deal with any concerns as they come up, but everybody has been very encouraging and enthusiastic,” Pipken said.
The project will include a three-story hotel with space for retail and a barbecue smoker/service building.
It will also include the restoration of the White Elephant Saloon, the Albertina House for guest rooms, the Keidel Pharmacy for a cafe and the Brockmann-Kiehne House for outdoor restaurant space.
Because it’s early in the process, Pipken said he doesn’t want to release a timeline at this time.
City Manager Kent Myers updated council on affordable housing, notifying them that current projects, such as the Beginnings Subdivision, are moving along. Soon, that division will be able to sell lots.
“My understanding is that they have a reservation for a number of the lots already from local builders who want to try to build housing within our $247,000 price range, which qualifies them for a waiver of impact fees,” Myers said.
However, Myers also told the council the city will not fund an affordable housing position this budget year, as requested by the Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Linda Langerhans said the council felt there wasn’t enough research done on this position, nor did they have room in the budget to fund the position.
The city does have several vacancies needing filling in the Fredericksburg Police Department, which may have taken priority over this item.
Langerhans said the city will continue to revisit the topic at future meetings.
Myers asked the council if it wanted to proceed with spearheading a task force, where the city, chamber and other companies could work together. Council members decided to revisit that topic in October, as well.
Myers also updated the council on its budget, saying the city is close to the finish line.
The public hearing for the budget will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, at City Hall.
Other action taken by council was approving an agreement with Gillespie County for the purposes of contracting for Election Services for the Nov. 5 Special Election.