Rapid Uptown Hotel Growth Led by Hilton's Several Projects

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Hilton has taken a shine to Uptown with three identified hotels and two rumored – one a luxe Waldorf Astoria.

It’s no secret that Uptown is booming with hotel projects – 10 are at various stages of development. Of the 10, four have yet to name their brands (or “flags” in industry lingo), and two are under construction (Uptown Marriott) or open for business (Hilton’s Canopy).  The past few months have seen flag announcements for the Mandarin Oriental, and Hilton’s Spark and Motto. I even list the Dream Hotel (now nightmare?) even though it was supposed to have broken ground years ago.

For years, many have hoped for a more downtown Four Seasons, but I’m told the Irving property’s agreement essentially blocks that. But worry not, there’s still Peninsula, Shangri-la, or Raffles to hold our breath for.

A rough calculation (because these things change once – or if – construction starts) is 1,600 to 1,800 hotel rooms are being added to Uptown (in addition to 120-ish over-the-top condos). A lot of them will be Hilton.

The original Dallas Hilton (now Indigo) built in 1925.

Hilton has a number of firsts in Texas. Conrad Hilton’s first-ever hotel was in Cisco, Texas, and the first Hilton-branded hotel was in Dallas.  No, it wasn’t The Statler (now a Hilton Curio branded property), but the earlier 1925 Hilton now housing the downtown Indigo Hotel (which is the luxe Holiday Inn brand that’s now part of InterContinental Hotels – confusing, huh?).

One might think that there’s some corporate sentimentality in action here. Doubtful. I rarely find corporations to be haphazardly nostalgic (especially since Hilton sold the original hotel 13 years after opening when Hilton decamped for California). Hilton is interested in Uptown because it makes business sense.

Part of Hilton’s game plan seems to be to use Uptown to trial new youth-focused brands with Canopy, Spark, and Motto. Personally, the large hotel chains are a confusing mess of brands and sub-brands.

Hilton manages 17 brands called Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, LXR, Conrad, Canopy, Signia Hilton, Curio Collection, DoubleTree, Tapestry Collection, Embassy Suites, Motto, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, tru, Homewood Suites, Home2, and Hilton Grand Vacations. I just want a comfortable bed with decent pillows, and sometimes a kitchen (mostly fridge and microwave) if I’m staying longer. (FYI, Marriott/Sheraton is worse with 30 separate hotel brands.)

Hilton No. 4: Waldorf Astoria on Turtle Creek?

Hilton’s fourth potential property in Uptown is rumored to be part of the three-building project at 2727 Turtle Creek by Prescott. Far, far from a Millennial play, it’s literally right next door to The Mansion on Turtle Creek Hotel and Residences. In the image above, the left building is slated to be a hotel and condo operation. So far all that’s been officially said is that it will be a 5-star property. Unofficially, I’ve heard from several well-connected sources that it will be a Waldorf Astoria.

For those who don’t know, Waldorf Astoria is the highest end of the Hilton range. Some would compare it to Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton (but without the market cachet). While seemingly newer to the condo market than some (like Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons), the brand supports many residential projects tied to hotel properties.

I reached out to Prescott a couple of weeks ago to confirm the Waldorf Astoria rumors but received no response. We’ll see. I give it a four (out of five).

Hilton No. 5: Central Market development?

Back in November 2018, the Oak Lawn Committee saw a proposal by HEB to redevelop the old Albertsons site on McKinney between the Lemmons. The smaller tower in the distance is slated for office/hotel/multi-family use whereas the larger tower in the foreground is all office (on top of a Central Market).

I’ve heard that Hilton was again attached to the hotel component of the project. However, this rumor is very tenuous. Given that a year has passed and Central Market still has not broken ground (but recently got their building permits), I wonder if Hilton’s designs (if there were any) for the project have simply moved. The newly presented stand-alone Hilton Motto and Spark project on Oak Grove and Hall a block away might be Hilton’s new destination for this project.

Again, we’ll see. I give it a one (out of five) that the hotel component will be a Hilton.

All this hotel interest in Uptown comes about because of market forces. First came the residential, then the offices and now places for travelers to stay when visiting those offices and residents. There’s also a larger trend of seizing on any scintilla of culture or neighborhood feel (or what the trendies call “authenticity”) to scrape a profit. Call it the Instagram or Airbnb effect whereby everyone eschews convention to demonstrate their en masse uniqueness by mimicking every trend they see in their feeds.

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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