AUSTIN (KXAN) - Developers said a new hotel puts Austin on a different, bigger playing field.
They expect the JW Marriott going in downtown to have planners of big conventions taking a second look at Austin as a destination hot spot.
On Tuesday, Mayor Lee Leffingwell and other city leaders will officially break ground on the high-rise hotel at the corner of Congress Avenue and Second Street.
Already, construction crews are working at the downtown block where Austin's biggest hotel will be.
The 1.2 million-square-foot JW Marriott hotel will be 34 stories and have 1,012 guest rooms.
City planners and developers said the construction of the hotel is critical in determining where Austin is going as a city.
The JW Marriott will help bring larger, more prominent conventions to Austin, ultimately putting the capital city on the map with international appeal.
Officials said now when planners of big conventions look to Austin, the city won't come up short.
"A lot of the convention groups have said they like the destination, but they really saw that we lacked an additional key hotel to really make the cut," said Steve Genovesi, the Convention and Visitors Bureau's vice president of sales. "So, now that we have the second hotel. The Hilton is a headquarter hotel, and now we'll have the JW Mariott. we can book larger city wide conventions."
Hotel executives say they're already seeing a demand.
"It truly is a game-changer, not only from an economic standpoint for the city, but it's bringing Austin on the national map for large conventions," said Marriott Austin's Jay Spurr, "We've already booked over 71,000 room nights year to date, which is more than we were expecting to do already for the full year. So we've already surpassed that."
Spurr said they've already booked convention groups up to the year 2020.
The JW Marriott is expected to open early in 2015.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
It's the first criminal charge following a yearlong criminal investigation into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.