Hilton Hotels Corporation, FaulknerUSA and hundreds of construction workers and community leaders celebrated the “topping out” of the new 800-room Hilton Austin last Friday, January 17. A topping out ceremony marks the construction milestone of the last concrete being poured at the top of the building, which signifies that the pinnacle of the structure has been reached and that the development project has now safely passed the halfway point. This full-service, downtown convention hotel broke ground in June 2001 and is scheduled to open its doors to guests in January 2004.
The Hilton Austin is owned by Austin Convention Enterprises Inc., developed by FaulknerUSA and will be operated by Hilton Hotels Corporation.
“Consistent with our brand`s strategy of having high-quality, full-service hotels in major markets, we are very excited about this fantastic new hotel, which will be situated in the midst of one of America`s most unique and friendly meetings and conventions destinations,” said Robert E. Dirks, senior vice president - brand management for Hilton. “We are looking forward to a tremendous grand opening in Texas` Capital City this time next year.”
In honor of the Hilton Austin reaching its highest point in construction, the highlight of the ceremony featured the hoisting of a Live Oak tree to the top of the hotel. Traditional tree-topping ceremonies are a 1,000-year-old custom. Dating back to its origin in Scandinavia, local superstition believed it necessary to appease the gods and ancestral spirits living in the trees cut and used for building structures.
Hilton Austin Tops Out / Looks Ahead to 2004 Opening
Located in the heart of downtown on the north side of the recently expanded Austin Convention Center, the Hilton Austin is quickly being recognized as the city`s new convention headquarters hotel. Just as important, the immediate area surrounding the Hilton Austin and the Austin Convention Center is beginning to show signs of rejuvenation in anticipation of the increased business expected from a new influx of local, regional and international convention and meeting guests and tourists. This section of downtown Austin is now being dubbed the “Convention Center District,” with an infusion of new restaurants and development—a sign the local economy is preparing for a transformation.
“The Hilton Austin is going to be a wonderful asset to the downtown community and the city of Austin as a whole,” said Beverly Silas, former chair of the Downtown Austin Alliance Board of Directors. “The more hotel rooms, the more people we can accommodate. This will benefit not only the Convention Center, but other local venues as well. It is also important that as Austin grows, local companies will have access to this facility space in addition to visitors.”
The development of the Hilton Austin alone already has made a positive impact on the Austin economy. By the time the hotel opens its doors next January, the project will have created more than 3,000 direct and indirect jobs in the Hill Country region. The hotel also will be staffed with approximately 500 area residents in new administration, accommodations and restaurant positions, upon opening.
Revenues from the Hilton Austin`s room taxes will complement Austin`s current tax base, supporting the city`s convention facilities, arts organizations and tourism promotion expenditures. According to the Texas Department of Economic Development, Austin`s 2001 hotel occupancy tax revenue totaled more than $24 million, with each hotel room generating on average approximately $1,000 in tax revenue.
From a meetings and conventions perspective, the new enhancements to the city are promising. The average length of stay for convention delegates in medium-size markets like Austin is 2.93 nights, according to the 2001 Convention Income Survey provided by the International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. Each convention delegate spent $757 per event, up 7.5 percent from 1998 figures. Daily spending average per event was $253 in 2001, a 7 percent increase from 1998. Delegate spending consists of lodging, incidentals, food, beverage, tours, sightseeing, theaters, museums, recreation, retail stores, transportation and other miscellaneous spending. Average length of stay for the convention association is 3.49 days for an event and 4.21 days for the convention exhibitor.
Hilton Austin Tops Out / Looks Ahead to 2004 Opening: “The addition of the Hilton Austin to our downtown landscape elevates our city to a higher playing field in the convention and meetings market. Large convention groups want a hotel with direct access to the convention center where they`re holding their tradeshows and meetings,” explains Bob Lander, president and CEO of the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. “In the past, Austin could not accommodate them. Now we can, and we`re pursuing those groups aggressively.”
Located in the scenic Hill Country region of Texas, the Hilton Austin will offer 800 guestrooms, including 25 suites, equipped for both business and leisure travelers, 60,000 square feet of technologically sophisticated meeting and event space, an extensively equipped 16,000 square foot fitness center and Finn & Porter, Liberty Tavern and Java Coast?’ restaurants. For a virtual, interactive tour of the Hilton Austin and complete details on its facilities, visit the hotel`s official website at www.austin.hilton.com.
About Hilton Hotels Corporation: Hilton Hotels Corporation is recognized internationally as a preeminent hospitality company. The company develops, owns, manages or franchises more than 2,000 hotels, resorts and vacation ownership properties. Its portfolio includes many of the world`s best known and most highly regarded hotel brands, including Hilton, Conrad, Doubletree, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations Company and Homewood Suites by Hilton. For more information about the Hilton Family of Brands, please visit our corporate website at www.hiltonworldwide.com.
About FaulknerUSA: From convention hotels, sports arenas, semiconductor fabrication facilities and retail projects to public schools, military housing, hospitals and correctional facilities, FaulknerUSA delivers innovative design-build and construction solutions for a broad range of clients nationwide. A merger of Landmark Organization and Faulkner Construction Company, FaulknerUSA`s 40-year construction background and renowned expertise orchestrating public-private financing structures for its public entity clients helps make development projects a reality for communities across the nation. In addition to the Hilton Austin and the accompanying Fifth Street Tower luxury residences, other FaulknerUSA projects include the Hilton Omaha and the award-winning Hilton Austin Airport.
The following service marks are owned by Hilton Hospitality, Inc.: Hilton®, Doubletree®, Embassy Suites Hotels®, Hampton Inn®, Hampton Inn & Suites®, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hilton Grand Vacations Company® and Homewood Suites by Hilton®, Finn & Porter?”, Liberty Tavern?”. Conrad® is owned by Conrad Hospitality, LLC.