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  #61  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2015, 12:00 AM
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You know, Kuala Lumpur has a massively long pedestrian bridge that flows from one of the main convention centers throughout one of their districts connecting multiple hotels and shopping centers above the city traffic. Bangkok also has its pedestrian bridge connecting Central City, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, and multiple hotels/convention centers as well as Skytrain stations in its downtown district. Why don't we just build a major pedestrian network of bridges above the street grid?
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  #62  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2015, 6:24 AM
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  #63  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2015, 12:58 PM
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You know, Kuala Lumpur has a massively long pedestrian bridge that flows from one of the main convention centers throughout one of their districts connecting multiple hotels and shopping centers above the city traffic. Bangkok also has its pedestrian bridge connecting Central City, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, and multiple hotels/convention centers as well as Skytrain stations in its downtown district. Why don't we just build a major pedestrian network of bridges above the street grid?
Building stuff like that in America is complicated (in part) by American safety regulations, disability accessibility regulations, airspace ownership questions, sun-accessibility/shading issues, etc.

There's times when it still makes sense here, but it's a lot easier in some countries.
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  #64  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2015, 2:43 AM
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Building stuff like that in America is complicated (in part) by American safety regulations, disability accessibility regulations, airspace ownership questions, sun-accessibility/shading issues, etc.

There's times when it still makes sense here, but it's a lot easier in some countries.

Not to mention these things take away significantly from street-activity.
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  #65  
Old Posted Oct 17, 2015, 7:18 AM
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In my experience, neither of those places lack in street activity. However, when you take handicapped accessibility and most other forms of building codes out of the equation, I agree - a lot more can be done.
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  #66  
Old Posted Nov 12, 2015, 4:35 PM
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Rumor around the water cooler is that the council is voting today to continue or kill the feasibility study and consulting fees for the CC expansion. Rumor is also that most of the council is unconvinced that pushing this forward is worthwhile. A good chunk of our senior leadership is over there right now to show support for the project.
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  #67  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2015, 1:43 AM
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The convention center is going to have to expand eventually and somehow.
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  #68  
Old Posted Nov 13, 2015, 1:54 AM
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I like the current plan more than another one that I think I heard years back - bulldozing the two blocks across Red River (north of Fairmont) up to Waller Creek. I don't think that plan had Red River continuing through the center either. I have no idea where I saw that, though.
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  #69  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2015, 5:14 AM
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The convention center is going to have to expand eventually and somehow.
Why? I don't see how this is a necessity for Austin. We're going to thrive with or without the larger conventions that could be attracted, but expanding the CC dead zone and tourist-oriented businesses could significantly detract from the distinct Austin vibe of downtown which is already in great flux.

I don't see how convention business really contributes to a city's core identity and purpose. If all goes well it can be a cash cow, but in many cases it's a cash drain. I recently read a very good analysis discussing all the hidden costs of hosting conventions, and the tricks that are used to pump up estimates of what conventions bring to cities. I don't recall the source, however.

SXSW is pretty unique in its ability to truly add to what makes Austin Austin, but most conventions bring a crowd of folks who aren't interested in the host city and will mostly spend their money on chain hotels, chain restaurants, and strip clubs. I've been a convention-goer a few times, and we were a dull lot who didn't contribute anything to the vitality and ambiance of our host cities. And, FTR, none of us visited strip clubs. That's just something that I've heard is a "thing" with many conventions, especially the national political party conventions. Gotta love our politicians... not.
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  #70  
Old Posted Nov 14, 2015, 5:22 AM
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Rumor around the water cooler is that the council is voting today to continue or kill the feasibility study and consulting fees for the CC expansion. Rumor is also that most of the council is unconvinced that pushing this forward is worthwhile. A good chunk of our senior leadership is over there right now to show support for the project.
Good call:
http://www.mystatesman.com/news/busi...ntion-c/npMm5/
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  #71  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2015, 3:11 PM
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Why? I don't see how this is a necessity for Austin. We're going to thrive with or without the larger conventions that could be attracted, but expanding the CC dead zone and tourist-oriented businesses could significantly detract from the distinct Austin vibe of downtown which is already in great flux.

I don't see how convention business really contributes to a city's core identity and purpose. If all goes well it can be a cash cow, but in many cases it's a cash drain. I recently read a very good analysis discussing all the hidden costs of hosting conventions, and the tricks that are used to pump up estimates of what conventions bring to cities. I don't recall the source, however.

SXSW is pretty unique in its ability to truly add to what makes Austin Austin, but most conventions bring a crowd of folks who aren't interested in the host city and will mostly spend their money on chain hotels, chain restaurants, and strip clubs. I've been a convention-goer a few times, and we were a dull lot who didn't contribute anything to the vitality and ambiance of our host cities. And, FTR, none of us visited strip clubs. That's just something that I've heard is a "thing" with many conventions, especially the national political party conventions. Gotta love our politicians... not.
I think there're some worthwhile caveats for convention center updates/rebuilds/etc on a generalized level, but at the same time I also believe the value proposition is highly specific to the market in which it's being considered. I've worked within several mid-size convention packages in my career and I have to say Austin's in an amazing place right now. We're one of the hottest destinations in the country, and all of our major metrics (ADR, RevPar, Occupancy) track that. It's pretty much us and Nashville and Portland for places that people want to visit and meet in.

Some upsides: we're walkable, we're friendly, the Center and the hotel package is relatively convenient. We have Sixth Street. Town Lake for natural beauty and recreation. Really stupendous food. And we have that thing, that snap, that people really want right now. As a guy who sells this place to out of towners, I've really had a hard time articulating what that snap actually is, but it's real and people across the country know it. I have a theory that it's mostly about youth culture and that we're like the Millenial Homeworld and people like that . . . but I'm still working on it.

Anyway, we're in a really rare position to take advantage of that crazy demand. IMO it can go one of two ways -- we can acknowledge the demand, ride it, and let it subside over time. Or embrace it, lock in one of the drivers of that demand, and see where it takes us.

IMO, the business of Austin now is very much one of hospitality and tourism. It's the side product of being an awesome city
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  #72  
Old Posted Nov 16, 2015, 7:23 PM
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Originally Posted by We vs us View Post
I think there're some worthwhile caveats for convention center updates/rebuilds/etc on a generalized level, but at the same time I also believe the value proposition is highly specific to the market in which it's being considered. I've worked within several mid-size convention packages in my career and I have to say Austin's in an amazing place right now. We're one of the hottest destinations in the country, and all of our major metrics (ADR, RevPar, Occupancy) track that. It's pretty much us and Nashville and Portland for places that people want to visit and meet in.

Some upsides: we're walkable, we're friendly, the Center and the hotel package is relatively convenient. We have Sixth Street. Town Lake for natural beauty and recreation. Really stupendous food. And we have that thing, that snap, that people really want right now. As a guy who sells this place to out of towners, I've really had a hard time articulating what that snap actually is, but it's real and people across the country know it. I have a theory that it's mostly about youth culture and that we're like the Millenial Homeworld and people like that . . . but I'm still working on it.

Anyway, we're in a really rare position to take advantage of that crazy demand. IMO it can go one of two ways -- we can acknowledge the demand, ride it, and let it subside over time. Or embrace it, lock in one of the drivers of that demand, and see where it takes us.

IMO, the business of Austin now is very much one of hospitality and tourism. It's the side product of being an awesome city
Well said. I'm all for the expansion and am thankful that the proposed expansion will not be a complete dead zone in between conventions unlike the current CC.
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  #73  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2015, 2:40 AM
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You know, after seeing the rendering of The Fairmont just put up by the General on the Fairmont thread (posted below for reference), I got to thinking: Between Fairmont, JW Marriott, Hyatt Regency, and other hotels with decently large convention areas (albeit much smaller than the Convention Center), it seems like we're gaining quite a bit of convention space as it is. The advantage of a larger convention center, of course, is being able to do more in a single place rather than spread out across downtown. At the same time, it depends on the type of event. If we're talking SXSW, it makes sense to have multiple venues (of which all of these would be used and then some anyway). If we're talking a large conference for a business or an industry, a single place would be more productive - but how much is actually needed for that? Just thinking aloud as opposed to bringing forth strong opinions on one side or another.

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  #74  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2015, 3:41 PM
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You know, after seeing the rendering of The Fairmont just put up by the General on the Fairmont thread (posted below for reference), I got to thinking: Between Fairmont, JW Marriott, Hyatt Regency, and other hotels with decently large convention areas (albeit much smaller than the Convention Center), it seems like we're gaining quite a bit of convention space as it is. The advantage of a larger convention center, of course, is being able to do more in a single place rather than spread out across downtown. At the same time, it depends on the type of event. If we're talking SXSW, it makes sense to have multiple venues (of which all of these would be used and then some anyway). If we're talking a large conference for a business or an industry, a single place would be more productive - but how much is actually needed for that? Just thinking aloud as opposed to bringing forth strong opinions on one side or another.
Sorry to threadsit but . . . well, this is what I do all day.

Really big things like SXSW are pretty rare. Cities usually only get one or two a year. Bigger convention destinations may have three or four. That said, some of the medium size events (think 1600 attendees or so) need a ballroom, an exhibit hall, and breakout rooms for the primary agenda. That's your CC space. But for something that size, there's going to be what my company calls ICWs ("In-Conjunction-Withs") that are one-off events usually held at participating hotels. Banquets or mixers hosted by major sponsors; maybe recruiting fairs; maybe a separate education track hosted by a third party. Events at 1600+ usually have a raft of smaller events trailing them; those are important, too.

My understanding, though, is that an expansion would allow a couple of these kind of meetings to happen simultaneously. Capacity like that opens up all sorts of opportunities for nearby hotels.

Another random factoid: full occupancy at a CC is considered something like 65% usage. The rest of the time is load-in/load-out and repair. We're now consistently operating in that 65% zone and turning business away because the only time we have to sell are distressed dates (holidays, summers, etc). So more space would also allow our peak seasons to peak even further.

/the more you know
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  #75  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2015, 3:34 PM
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Effort to expand convention center on hold for now
Council seeking more info before passing proposed master plan

Efforts to make Austin a convention destination have proven so effective that a larger event center is needed to accommodate increased demand, according to city staff.

The city is proposing to expand the Austin Convention Center westward by adding 321,680 square feet of leasable space. The expanded center, outlined in a master plan considered Nov. 12 by City Council, also could include a 3-acre park atop the facility and a private hotel.

But before such an expansion can proceed, council members want to know what alternative projects, including a potential arena, could be funded using the city’s hotel occupancy tax, or HOT tax, revenue.

“There are some issues that have been raised by some folks as to what is the opportunity cost associated with this proposal,” Mayor Steve Adler said. “I want to make sure we’re not going to be doing anything by this vote that is going to … affect what we can do in the future.”
http://communityimpact.com/2015/11/2...-hold-for-now/
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  #76  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2015, 9:34 PM
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You know it would make sense to use some of that hotel tax for a new arena. Fact is the Erwin Center will be torn down eventually and a city as large as Austin needs a major indoor arena or we will lose out big time to other cities that have 20,000 plus seat arenas.

I'm all for expanding the convention center but I don't see a problem with looking at using some of the hotel tax for a new arena.
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  #77  
Old Posted Nov 24, 2015, 11:02 PM
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Some great stats on the San Antonio vs. Austin hotel battle. Takeaway: Austin's a baller.

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantoni...ats-up-as.html
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  #78  
Old Posted Nov 25, 2015, 10:51 PM
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Some great stats on the San Antonio vs. Austin hotel battle. Takeaway: Austin's a baller.

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantoni...ats-up-as.html
I can understand their reason to be concerned over the decline of their market in particular but I think they are once again overblowing this idea that Austin is out to get them and take over the lead. There may be other reasons behind the decline than just Austin becoming competitive.

Austin is currently a hot destination and that has nothing to do with whether or not hotels are filling up in San Antonio. Both Metros are essentially in the same population catagory. They just recently expanded their convention center and they still have more hotel rooms than we do. Austin just happens to be a major city to the north of them that is beginning to come into its own. I don't think that should be anything to be concerned over nor do I think it's really fair to put our industry's success as the cause of their industry's stagnation. Sure some of it may be due to competition but there's bound to be other underlying issues as well that have nothing to do with Austin.
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  #79  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2015, 3:55 PM
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This can be an opportunity for Austin to do something world-class, to figure out a new best-practice. Convention center expansion = single story sprawl right in the middle of downtown. It's a terrible use of scarce land, with additional social costs of physically dividing the city.

The dogma is that conventions must be single story events under one roof. The engineering challenge is in people moving. I'm eager to see some top designers tackle the challenge of getting conventions to operate on multiple stories, or connected to existing hotel banquet space.

Last edited by Downtown_Austin; Nov 28, 2015 at 5:59 PM.
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  #80  
Old Posted Nov 28, 2015, 7:50 PM
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This can be an opportunity for Austin to do something world-class, to figure out a new best-practice. Convention center expansion = single story sprawl right in the middle of downtown. It's a terrible use of scarce land, with additional social costs of physically dividing the city.

The dogma is that conventions must be single story events under one roof. The engineering challenge is in people moving. I'm eager to see some top designers tackle the challenge of getting conventions to operate on multiple stories, or connected to existing hotel banquet space.
I'm a big fan of Minneapolis's convention center, and it has parts with multiple floors.
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