In a vote late Thursday night, the Austin City Council upheld its original contract with White Lodging, putting a period on a wage dispute two years in the making. The hotel management company is hosting the massive construction of a new JW Marriott on Congress Avenue between Second and Third streets.
The council’s deal with White Lodging inked in 2011 required workers on site to be paid a prevailing, livable wage. An investigation through the city manager’s office revealed the developer wasn’t upholding its end of the bargain.
Despite City Manager Marc Ott’s opinions on how to resolve the discrepancy, council upheld its original package deal with White Lodging. That deal says the developer must comply with the wage agreement or give back all of the city’s $3.8 million in incentives.
Hundreds rallied on West Second Street ahead of council’s decision for worker’s rights over corporate interest. Council Member Mike Martinez said there are no winners in the development deal gone south.
"The prevailing wage is not going to be applied,” Martinez said. “White Lodging and the folks that are supporting White Lodging are not going to feel good about doing business with Austin."
No word yet if White Lodging is going to comply or give back its award incentives, but council is presuming they will receive a refund.
The council also worked on plans to replace the Taco Cabana on South Lamar and Riverside Drive.
Developers are planning to build a 96-foot-tall housing complex in the area.
Council members say it will be a great addition to Austin's growing housing market, in a spot near downtown and the Lady Bird hike-and-bike trail.
"We do get 40 more units, which I do believe is very important in a city where people have raised concerns about traffic," Council Member Chris Riley said. "Having units located in a place like this, where we expect them to be walk-able, is the answer to our traffic problems."
In addition, the new project on the Taco Cabana adds $439,000 to the city’s affordable housing cost fund.