A developer's plans for a for residential tower near the Texas Capitol have morphed into plans for a new hotel instead. Representatives of Austin's Pearlstone Partners confirmed the intended change in use at Monday's city Design Commission meeting.

The commission approved the project for participation in the city's density program, which allows more floor area in buildings than normally permitted under the land development code in exchange for a fee or a percentage of affordable housing units on appropriate projects. In this case, Pearlstone would pay $2.2 million to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund in lieu of offering new affordable housing options on-site.

The developer initially planned a 250-condo project on the now-vacant lot at 1308 Lavaca Street, at the southwest corner of 14th and Lavaca. Now Pearlstone says it wants to build a 35-story hotel with 280 rooms on the 0.41-acre site. Its plans for the 300,000-square-foot project include several floors of dedicated parking, an observation terrace, and  3,000 square feet of ground-floor space for an as-yet-unspecified "activation."

The commission sent Pearlstone back to the drawing board (kind of) when it determined at an April meeting that the building's initial design didn't comply with the city’s urban design guidelines.

The updated plans “celebrate the local context and character of the neighborhood through materiality and form," said project designer Paul Suttles of STG Design. He said the building's shape was designed to comply with Capitol view corridor rules and that a patio on the southern side of the observation deck that accentuates its proximity to the pink dome will be accessible to the public. 

One commissioner, David Carroll, expressed disappointment at the plan's several floors of parking, pointing out that it's surrounded by state garages, and its relative lack of street-level activation.

The building will need final City Council approval to participate in Austin's density bonus plan.

Pearlstone's pivot to a hospitality use at 14th and Lavaca is interesting in light of its development history and its planned $700 million in new projects, all of which are residential or mixed-use residential.