Downtown land for new hotel disputed

Existing hotelier claims city plays favorites; city says Ufer Street project will add upscale option

A local hotel developer is claiming the City of Fredericksburg is playing favorites by offering floodplain land to the developer of a new, full-service hotel planned for Ufer and Llano streets.

The city denies any favorite status, saying the land on Barons Creek will be deeded in return for $130,000 toward a hiking path along the creek and contributions toward a planned foot bridge across it.    

The land in question is about an acre to acre-and-a-half that is in the Barons Creek flood plain. The city recently swapped this land with Gillespie County in exchange for paving work.

Mickey Poole is a hotelier who owns the Comfort Inn and other properties that make up roughly 20 percent of local rooms. Poole said he has invested $8 million in the local market, and pays roughly $91,000 in hotel occupancy taxes.

Now he thinks the city is offering a favor to what will be a competing hotel.

“This is not ‘a drainage ditch,’ as I have been told. This is a gift from the city and I’m not willing to give it,” Poole said. “I’m not trying to play conspiracy or be contentious, but we want a flat playing field.”

The city countered that the agreement is similar to a multi-year arrangement reached with city land for the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, which is halfway through a multi-phase construction agreement at the eastern city limits.

“This development has lots of benefits,” City Manager Kent Myers said. “Otherwise, the land is undevelopable. “The owners of the new hotel will put $130,000 into an escrow account and use $30,000 for a walking trail and lighting on that land, and put $100,000 toward a future foot bridge that crosses the creek.”

Architectural plans show the project listed as “Fredericksburg Hotel.” The proposed four-star hotel will add another dimension to current offerings in the city, the Schluneggers said in a letter to the council.

The hotel will include four upper management positions, along with 25 full-time employees. Preliminary plans include a spa, beauty salon, restaurant, pub and gift shop.

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Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228