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Driskill Hotel, Innovation District and more

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

HOSPITALITY: Toasting the grande dame. The Driskill Hotel has stood at the corner of East Sixth and Brazos streets for 127 years. Today, it remains a grand oasis as Austin alters all around it. And to think, a few decades ago, a previous owner considered tearing it down. Tuesday, the hotel’s staff and a few guests raised their glasses in the upper lobby to salute the ornate survivor. We met the new general manager, Scott Mason, and the new executive chef, Troy Knapp, both exceedingly gracious. And we sampled tasty bites that motivated me to consider return trips to the Driskill Grill and 1886 Cafe sooner rather than later. (Thanks to Michele Golden for the golden opportunity to mingle.)

BUSINESS: Austin ponders innovation district near medical center. Reported by Laylan Copelin and Shonda Novak in Wednesday’s Statesman: “As the University of Texas prepares to break ground on its medical school, Austin officials are planning how to leverage that investment into an even bigger job creator than the medical school would become on its own. Austin officials are not above cribbing from the experience of other cities. Today, officials from Massachusetts will share their experience with the Kendall Square Innovation District that transformed waterfront land into a mixed-used community that has added more than 4,000 new jobs in 200 new companies over the last three years. Austin’s new medical school district doesn’t have waterfront acreage — Waller Creek not withstanding. But the idea — and that’s all it is right now — is to encourage start-up companies to locate near the confluence of a new medical school, teaching hospital, the university and the development of Waller Creek.” http://shar.es/ITgvY (Fanastic idea. Explore.)

SPORTS: UT picks Steve Patterson for AD. Reported by Kirk Bohls and Mark Rosner in Wednesday’s Statesman: “The University of Texas ended its month-long search for a new men’s athletic director Tuesday, hiring a Texas graduate with less than two years’ experience as a college athletic director after spending most of his career in the professional sports world. But UT President Bill Powers and the school’s eight-member advisory committee believed Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson was the right hire to replace DeLoss Dodds, who is retiring after spending the past 32 years guiding the athletic department and building the Longhorns into a national college power.” http://shar.es/ITfe8(Critical role at critical time.)

CITY: Austin housing bonds approved. Reported by Sarah Coppola in Wednesday’s Statesman: “With nearly all votes tallied late Tuesday, a $65 million Austin bond measure for affordable housing was headed toward approval — just a year after voters rejected a nearly identical item. The money will help build, renovate and repair an estimated 2,800 units of housing to be rented or sold at below-market rates. That could include apartments, condos and single-family homes. Housing advocates who campaigned aggressively for this year’s measure were ebullient Tuesday night as they celebrated at Scholz Garten downtown.” http://shar.es/ITWVB(The need is there.)