In March developers broke ground on a hotel they hope will be a unique addition to downtown Round Rock.
“We always say to ourselves that we couldn’t recreate this site again in any of our lifetimes,” said Bree Carrico, principal at Alexa Management, the group that will lead the development and operations for the hotel. “It is covered in 100-year-old oak trees. You can tell that it has history and was very well-maintained and loved.”
A house currently sits on a 3-acre piece of property at 304 Fannin Ave. where The Ruby Hotel is being built. Carrico said the developers plan to renovate the house into a bar and lounge. They will maintain an existing patio that overlooks Brushy Creek.
“We are trying to create a little respite for people to come and have a coffee on the patio over the creek,” Carrico said.
On each side of the house there will be buildings which will house a total of 39 guest rooms.
Aside from being the first boutique hotel in Round Rock, The Ruby Hotel is unique in its story.
“When I first came to the site to look at it with some of our current partners, I was walking around the house and kicked over a pile of leaves and found a love letter addressed to ‘Dearest Ruby,’” Carrico said. The letter inspired not only the hotel’s name, but its aesthetic. Carrico said the hotel’s logo adopted the handwriting from the letter.
“That’s sort of the lens that we run everything through in terms of the brand,” Carrico explained. “I just love that it’s just this very genuine story that we’ve been able to weave and that we’re going to be able to share with people. It’s an experience that will have the opportunity to delight people along the way once they understand the story and the brand.”
At its regular meeting March 8, Round Rock City Council approved an economic development program with the hotel.
“For many years, council had expressed interest in a boutique hotel for the downtown area, so we took it upon ourselves to help facilitate that for the future growth and economic stability of downtown,” said Ben White, Round Rock Chamber vice president of economic development.
The agreement requires the hotel to invest at least $4.5 million and employ at least 35 full-time employees. In return, the city will abate 25 percent of city hotel occupancy and property taxes in the hotel’s first year, 25 percent of hotel occupancy and 50 percent of property taxes in the second year and 50 percent of both taxes in the third and fourth year. The city also agreed to waive up to $13,000 in development application fees.
“[The agreement] is performance-based, so there’s really no risk for the city,” White said. “So, the better they do, the more incentives they get.”
The Ruby Hotel is on track to open in the beginning of 2019.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity, and we really do hope it’s a place that locals visit. We like the idea of the big old house with the creek view being the place that you bring your aunt when she’s in from out of town,” Carrico said. “We are excited to be a part of the community and get to know people more.”