Marble Falls Hotel Group announces the iconic name of its highly anticipated hotel and conference center project

MARBLE FALLS, TexasMay 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The wait is finally over. After much anticipation, Phoenix Hospitality Group announces that Downtown Marble Falls will soon be home to The Ophelia Hotel Marble Falls, A Tapestry Collection by Hilton Hotel. The hotel and conference center will break ground this summer with an expected opening in early 2024.

Situated on Lake Marble Falls, the new hotel will feature:

  • 123 Guest Rooms
  • Over 9,000 Square Feet of Ballroom & Meeting Space
  • Signature Restaurant, Bar, & Café
  • Rooftop Bar & Dining

The Ophelia Hotel Marble Falls is named after Ophelia “Birdie” Harwood, a legendary figure in Marble Falls. Ophelia was a trailblazer during her era. She became the first female mayor in the State of Texas, three years before women even had the right to vote. Needless to say, she left a lasting legacy.

The Ophelia Hotel will embody what Ophelia accomplished, blending tradition and elegance while exceeding expectations. As such, Ophelia’s name and story will be integrated throughout the hotel and include naming the restaurant “Birdie’s” and the rooftop bar “Doc Harwood’s,” named after her husband.

The affiliation with Hilton Hotels and, in particular the Tapestry Collection of unique boutique hotels, is a perfect fit for The Ophelia Hotel, highlighting its individualism and personality.

The project was set in motion in 2013 by the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation. The groundbreaking comes after years of careful planning and patience by the Marble Falls EDC to find the right hotel development team for the downtown site. Boerne-based Phoenix Hospitality Group is the project’s lead developer and will be the hotel manager after opening. Hawkins Family Partners LP of Austin is the sole owner and co-developer of the hotel.

The project lending sponsor is Commercial National Bank of Brady. Bank President & CEO Clay Jones and Marble Falls Area President Tim Cardinal are the lead lenders for the construction loan and permanent financing.

Wurzel Builders, an Austin-based full-service general contractor and construction manager, is excited to be named as the general contractor for this project, with their extensive experience in the hospitality, healthcare, retail, industrial, office, and restaurant sectors, priding itself on completing on-time quality-centric projects since 1998. The company is led by president Barry Wurzel, with unparalleled commitment to client collaboration, reliability, integrity, and excellence.

For inquiries, contact:
Phoenix Hospitality Group

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The lights that brighten the U.S. 281 bridge in Marble Falls might one day be able to change colors to celebrate holidays and special events.

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. authorized engineering services company Stantec to begin preliminary designs for lighting improvements on the bridge that would give the city the ability to change light colors. EDC directors approved spending up to $34,509 toward the design portion of the project during a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 26.

“This is simply a design process so you can get an idea of what this would look like without committing to actual construction,” explained EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher during the meeting.

Costs associated with the design phase will come out of the EDC’s recent sales tax revenue bond sale, which has $300,000 earmarked for lighting improvements along the bridge. The $34,509 will cover design development, construction documents, and administration.

During the design process, engineers will evaluate options such as switching out the existing lighting features, which currently only shine white light, or installing a completely new lighting system along the bridge, Fletcher said.

“In either case, (the Lower Colorado River Authority) has requested that the spotlights on the pillars on the bottom of the bridge stay white light,” he said. “They don’t want that to change.”

Board members authorized entering this phase of the project as a change order to an existing professional services agreement for the next steps of Lakeside Park Phase 1B improvements, which was approved by the board in September 2021.

Also during the meeting, EDC directors further discussed potential design options for the old power house structure located on the east side of Lake Marble Falls just below Chili’s.

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. entered a three-year funding commitment with Workforce Network Inc. during the EDC’s regular meeting Wednesday, Jan. 5. Beginning this fiscal year, the EDC will provide the nonprofit with $20,000 a year for three years to use toward growing staffing needs.

Workforce Network Inc. is a nonprofit workforce intermediary serving communities in Burnet and Llano counties. The organization identifies the needs of the local workforce and helps create opportunities for residents through collaboration with area stakeholders.

Recent efforts include organizing plumbingelectrician, and certified medical assistant training. It also helped launch the Rural Healthcare Initiative to train people for medical careers.

Workforce Network has four people on staff, including two part-time employees. Currently, CEO and President Fay Crider and Workforce Director of Stakeholder Relations Gail Davalos work on a mostly volunteer basis.

“We are not going to be able to replace ourselves (in the future) unless we can pay someone, so we are slowly working up to the point that we can (replace ourselves),” Crider explained during the EDC meeting.

Operation funds for the organization come from contributions by entities such as the city of Horseshoe Bay, Llano County, and several local EDCs. The $20,000 from the Marble Falls EDC will go toward Workforce Network’s staffing costs, which are anticipated to be $70,500 for the 2022 fiscal year.

“There is no way on earth that (the Marble Falls EDC staff) could replicate what Workforce Network and their team is doing for advancing workforce development efforts,” said EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher. “This comes with my overwhelmingly positive recommendation.”

The Marble Falls EDC has budgeted $80,000 of its annual funding toward assisting in local workforce development, with a large portion being used as match funds for the High Demand Job Training Grant program, a partnership with Workforce Network, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, and the Texas Workforce Commission. The additional $20,000 will bring the total workforce development budget to $100,000.

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Backbone Creek stabilization project completed in Marble Falls’ Johnson Park

Marble Falls City Engineer Kacey Paul

Marble Falls City Engineer Kacey Paul addresses the audience during a Dec. 7 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization Project, which began in mid-2020. The project stabilized banks along Backbone Creek and added roughly 2 acres of park land to the city. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

Marble Falls city staff, elected officials, and residents celebrated the completion of the Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization project during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Dec. 7, in Johnson Park, 230 Avenue J. The project, which spans eight sites along the creek, took a little more than a year to finish.

“I’m very thankful for the team that we had on this,” City Engineer Kacey Paul said during the event.

Marble Falls city staff began working on the bank stabilization project after the 2018 flood caused significant damage and erosion to creek banks and in Johnson Park. The project cost a total of $8 million with $4.69 million of the budget provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service through Emergency Watershed Protection Program grants.

Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization construction work
A drone shot taken March 18 of Backbone Creek Bank Stabilization construction work in Johnson Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin Hatfield/Jay-Reese Contractors Inc.

Construction began in mid-2020. Throughout its duration, visitors to Johnson Park and Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, could view workers from Jay-Reese Contractors Inc. and city staff as they installed retaining walls made of limestone blocks and new irrigation equipment and removed tons of soil from project sites.

Now finished, the banks should withstand 100-year storms in Marble Falls as well as erosion caused by flooding in the Colorado River, Paul said. In addition to stabilizing the banks, the project added roughly 2 acres to the city’s parks system.

During the ribbon cutting, City Manager Mike Hodge thanked members of the City Council as well as previous members such as former Mayor John Packer for their assistance in ensuring the project’s completion.

“The support of the council in this overall project was tremendous,” Hodge said. “A project that was ultimately about a $5 million project grew to about $8 million because of all the extra things we ended up doing here so (improvements) could be aesthetically pleasing for those enjoying the park and then also for some of the additional venues that will be introduced.”

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. will work with Stantec, an engineering services company, in developing the next steps of Lakeside Park Phase 1B improvements. The EDC approved entering a $553,095 professional services agreement with the company during its Monday, Sept. 27, meeting.

Stantec will spend the next eight months working on design development and construction drawings for the improvements, which include to the old powerhouse structure on Lake Marble Falls, a connecting boardwalk, and a walking trail extension. Once those steps are complete, the EDC will bring in a contractor to oversee and finish construction, which is expected to take about a year.

“We are trying to keep the timeline for this project as consistent as possible with the (Marble Falls hotel and conference center) project so that we can open everything at roughly the same time,” EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher said in a statement.

One of Stantec’s goals throughout the design and engineering process will be to keep construction costs down while also maintaining the integrity of the project, Fletcher said.

Portions of the project will be paid for through $8 million of sales-tax revenue bonds discussed during an Aug. 4 meeting.

The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. entered land purchase, management, and lease agreements with Marble Falls Hotel Group LLC during the EDC’s Sept. 27 meeting. The actions allow for the construction of a planned hotel and conference center. Illustration courtesy of Marble Falls EDC

Legal documents to bring the Marble Falls Hotel and Conference Center closer to reality were signed during a special meeting of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. on Sept. 27. Details were discussed during an executive session before EDC directors voted.

The hotel and conference center will next go before the Marble Falls City Council, which will consider granting the project a 25-year hotel tax abatement of $300,000 during its Oct. 19 meeting. Burnet County commissioners will also consider a 10-year ad valorem tax abatement of 75 percent at an upcoming meeting.

The hotel and conference center is expected to have an economic impact of over $250 million within its first 20 years of operation.

At the Sept. 27 special meeting, EDC directors approved a land purchase agreement, a performance agreement, and a nonexclusive lease and management agreement with Marble Falls Hotel Group LLC following an executive session to discuss legal details.

The project includes a 116-room Tapestry by Hilton hotel and a fully operational conference center to be built on  roughly 3 acres of land along Yett Street and the Marble Falls lakefront. EDC and city officials have been discussing the project for years, with progress being made since 2019.

Construction is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2022. The hotel and conference center should open for operation in mid-2023.

The project will be funded, owned, and operated by Marble Falls Hotel Group LLC, which consists of the Phoenix Hospitality Group, a hotel management and development group, and Hawkins Family Partners LP.

Total project development is expected to cost upwards of $35 million and will be funded through a 50 percent loan and cash equity provided by the hotel group.

The EDC finalized the sale of project site land to the hotel group for $2 million. Directors also approved entering into a 25-year nonexclusive lease and management agreement with the hotel group for use of conference center facilities. The EDC will pay $525,000 for the first three years and $225,000 for the remainder of the agreement. The lease agreement allows the EDC to use conference center facilities throughout its duration.

“The EDC’s financial commitment to the project is tied directly to the conference center in the agreements that were approved yesterday, but the broader rationale for our incentives include a commitment to the public spaces around the property, the boutique nature and service level of the hotel, and overcoming some challenging site characteristics,” said EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher in a statement.

The EDC is also contributing $6.8 million to the project, which will almost completely cover design and construction costs associated with the conference center portion. Contribution funds come from 2016 bonds proceeds dedicated to the project.

Can it be? The dog days of summer 2021 are upon us at last. And while plenty has changed over previous years, one thing remains constant: an overwhelming desire among many Americans to head to the water—and, just maybe, consider what it would take to own a house there.

But in today’s overheated housing market, is the concept of owning your own waterfront home a punishing fantasy or an achievable reality? Well, it all depends on where you look.

Reality check: Most of us are no more likely find ourselves in ostentatious ocean estates in Malibu, the Hamptons, or Bal Harbour than we are to enjoy an eight-minute joyride to the edge of space. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the 99% can’t get in on the waterfront action. For many, lakeside living is the answer.

That’s where the data team at® comes in. We set out on our annual hot-season quest to find the best affordable lake towns in the United States—places with lots of well-priced homes, lovely and fun water scenes, and no shortage of things to do on dry land. Some offer Zen-inducing tranquility, some pulse-pounding action, and others the kind of family-friendly tourist vibe that can optimize rental opportunities.

And all of them are great for those seeking escape in the spring and fall as well—no small consideration these days.

“Lake homes have always been a popular, aspirational home. The events of the past year drove additional interest,” says Glenn S. Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty. His company sells lake homes in 33 states. “If you have to socially distance or can work from home, just move to the lake full time.”

His brokerage has seen sales in lake towns surge by 50% this year compared to last year, as people flock to the water. And last year was already nuts!

To find out where house hunters can actually buy a lake home without taking an extra job—or three— looked at the median list prices of more than 2,000 towns located on America’s watering holes from May 2020 through June 2021. Each place had to have at least 50 listings each month to make the cut.

Then we ensured these were the kind of places buyers want to be, by searching for the towns with the most water-based businesses, like marinas, restaurants, and activities, using U.S. Census Bureau data. To keep the list geographically diverse, we limited the list to one lake town per state.

See you on the dock!

1. Sandusky, OH

Sandusky, OH, was ranked the most affordable lake town in 2021 by


Median list price: $177,750*

Sandusky has been getting a lot of press over the past few years. Two years ago, USA Today named it the best coastal town in America. Set on the banks of Lake Erie, the popular vacation destination offers a revitalized downtown with good shopping and dining. Families love heading to the rides and entertainment at Cedar Point Amusement Park—the self-proclaimed “roller coaster capital of the world.”

“We have a lot of second-home buyers that come here for their getaway homes,” says real estate agent Jenny Craig of Russell Realty Company. “Homes can vary widely in price: A single-family fixer-upper on the water can go for around $250,000 or into the millions.”

Buyers want to be as close to the water as possible, whether in a condo near the lake—like this one-bedroom asking $160,500—or in a single-family house. This four-bedroom with views of Sandusky Bay is listed at $355,000.

2. Wisconsin Dells, WI

Median list price: $199,950

Anglers from all over the Midwest flock to this rural destination for the awesome catch on manmade Lake Delton, two local rivers, and other, smaller bodies of water that are surrounded with lovely and affordable homes all along their shorelines.

But family members who aren’t into waiting hours (or what can feel like hours) for fish to bite have plenty of other entertainment options throughout the year as well, from wakeboarding and tubing on the water to minigolf and go-karts off it.

“We are right between Minneapolis and Chicago, and it’s a relatively quick trip on the interstate for people from those regions to come and vacation,” says one real estate agent, Kirkland Kettleson of Century 21 Affiliated.

Minneapolis is just over three hours northwest, and Chicago more than three hours northeast.

“We’ve become a year-round vacation destination now because of the resorts, indoor water parks, and other amenities in the area,” he adds.

Those four-season attractions have made the area’s lake homes a hot commodity among second homeowners. Condos on Lake Delton start in the low $100,000s, like this sweet two-bedroom asking $154,900. And while it is possible to find a single-family home on the water that needs a bit of love for under $200,000, the pickings at that price point are slim.

3. Chelan, WA

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area in Washington state

(Getty Images)

Median list price: $284,050

There’s a reason Chelan is the go-to second-home destination for Seattlites seeking a more affordable—and infinitely sunnier—summer escape. Just a three-hour drive, the idyllic glacial valley, located across the Cascade Range in the high desert, centers on the crystal-clear waters of Lake Chelan.

The 55-mile-long body of water is ideal for sailing or paddling past historic cabins and sprawling vineyards. And those who get seasick can avoid the water altogether with local wine tastings. Little wonder Lake Chelan is such a popular vacation destination for 12 to 14 weeks per year.

A majority of buyers use their homes here partly as vacation rentals,  says Justin Skaar, owner of Coldwell Banker Lake Chelan. That makes it appealing for investors as well as folks who stay there part of the time and rent out for the rest, to help pay off their mortgages.

“It’s a way to feel secure about making payment, so they can float it if the world turns upside down,” he says.

Chelan offers housing options at a wide range of price points. Waterfront condos start in the mid $300,000s, like this one-bedroom listed at $349,000. But those who want access to the water from their backdoors need IPO-level cash; they should expect to fork over six figures for places like this brand-new three-bedroom listed at $1.25 million. (Sorry.)

4. Branson, MO

Branson, MO, is always one of’s top affordable lake towns.


Median list price: $319,050

One perennial rule of summer: Branson, MO, is always one of the highest-ranking lake towns in the nation—even if it did move down a couple of spots, from No. 2 last year.

While the area boasts multiple lakes, the family-friendly destination offers plenty to do when you need a break from the sun and heat. If Queen Dolly Parton’s Stampede and live country music shows aren’t your thing, check out the Titanic Museum, with 400 pre-Discovery artifacts spread across 20 galleries—which can be enjoyed in the blissful A/C.

House hunters who want easy access to entertainment after paddleboarding, kayaking, or boating across 43,000 acres of water will appreciate one of the many waterfront homes on Table Rock Lake.

Buyers can find lakeview condos starting in the $200,000 range, such as this three-bedroom listed at $298,000 a bit farther from town. Closer to town, those similar units near the large body of water go for at least an extra $100,000—if not more—such as this three-bedroom asking $539,000.

5. Ely, MN

Buyers can find cute cottages in Ely, MN.


Median list price: $237,050

Right near the Canadian border, way up north in Minnesota, secluded Ely offers acres upon acres of pristine lakes and unspoiled forests set on a stunning, glacier-carved landscape. It’s basically the complete opposite of Branson—aside from, you know, the lakes. There are no theme parks or big music shows. And if Dolly has ever spent time here, she didn’t leave much of a trace.

The International Wolf Center and North American Bear Center are probably the most happening spots in town. That makes Ely paradise for lake lovers who really do want to escape from the crowds and aren’t afraid to keep socially distant.

From this $400,000 one-bedroom cabin on a wooded, waterfront acre right near the Trezona Trail to this $599,000 one-bedroom cabin on a 1.25-acre island in Shagawa Lake, Ely is the ideal lake town for folks who want to get away from it all..

6. Lake Placid, NY

Lake Placid, NY, is a popular lake town in upstate New York.

(Getty Images)

Median list price: $179,500

The town of Lake Placid, set on the banks of, you guessed it, Lake Placid, is probably best known as the home of the 1980 (and 1932!) Winter Olympics. The informative museum on the Games and international ski jump, bobsled, and luge training facilities still gets tons of visitors who want to learn more or watch world-class athletes train.

While the area boasts hundreds of hiking trails for all levels of ability, it also offers motorboating, fishing, and, for those seeking some summer adrenaline, whitewater rafting. However, the Adirondack region is also a destination for folks who just want to sunbathe and roast marshmallows over a fire pit.

Although Lake Placid boasts some impressive multimillion-dollar homes on the water, like this $11 million seven-bedroom estate, folks without trust funds can get into the housing market, too. This three-bedroom, single-family house asking $205,000 offers down payment assistance for buyers who earn under a certain income. There’s also this quirky three-bedroom within walking distance to Main Street for $350,000.

7. Effingham, IL

Buyers enjoy being near Lake Sara in this town.


Median list price: $375,050

Lake Sara has a bit of everything. It’s quiet and peaceful early in the morning, and bustling with waterskiers and boaters in the afternoon. The 800-acre recreational lake is surrounded by a wooded shoreline, winding road and grassy picnic spots that come right up to the edge of the water. This makes it and the nearby town of Effingham a beloved getaway for families from nearby St. Louis, a drive of about an hour-and-a-half away.

For a home right on the lake, buyers can find nice single-family homes starting in the $200,000-range, such as this waterfront three-bedroom asking $259,000.

But there are also plenty of folks who’d prefer to be right in town, within walking distance to dozens of restaurants, the performance center, and the nearly 30 sculptures spread throughout downtown. It’s possible to get a house in this area for just over $100,000, such as this cute three-bedroom asking $115,000.

8. Eureka Springs, AR

Eureka Springs, AR, is a popular vacation destination in the Ozarks.

(Getty Images)

Median list price: $371,900

Set in the Ozark Mountains of Northwestern Arkansas, Eureka Springs gets a ton of visitors who want to admire the beautifully preserved architecture of its Historic District. Sights include the Palace Hotel and Bath House, listed on the National Historic Register, as well as the Basin Park Hotel and the supposedly haunted Crescent Hotel. They were all built around the city’s natural springs—hence the name.

The area also has lots to do, from shopping and dining to mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and canoeing on its rivers and lakes. It is also renowned as the most hippie town in the state, offering drum circles, natural food options, and plenty of community art scattered across town.

Buyers who want to get in on the monthly drum circles in Basin Springs Park can find great deals on homes close to downtown, such as this renovated three-bedroom asking $279,000.

9. Guntersville, AL

There are roughly 69,000 miles of shoreline in Guntersville, AL.


Median list price: $459,050

Just an hour-and-a-half by car from Birmingham, Guntersville boasts nearly 1,000 miles of shoreline on more than 69,000 acres of water. That’s a whole lot of space for you to lie out, water-ski, fish, kayak, or do whatever other water-based activity you care to dream up.

But it’s not just the water that makes the area so special and desirable. Known as Alabama’s Lake City, it’s surrounded by older trees, rugged mountains, and has cultural amenities like a regional theater company.

Starting at under $200,000, buyers can find comfortable homes right near the shore, such as this four-bedroom ranch just around the corner from the boat ramp, asking $184,900. But of course, those who want to go all out on their lake home can find secluded properties that cost much more, like this two-bedroom cottage on 180 feet of deep-water shoreline, for $699,500.

10. Marble Falls, TX

Buyers can find good deals in Marble Falls, TX.

(Getty Images)

Median list price: $559,550

Marble Falls in the Highland Lakes Region is becoming one of the best-known tourist destinations in the central part of the state. Located just an hour from Austin, the town and its surrounding lakes—which are actually dams in the Colorado River—have become an increasingly popular second-home destination. They can play on the lake, ride horses, or follow off-road Jeep trails without losing access to high-speed internet and other city amenities.

“People are realizing they don’t have to be in the city and suburbs, so they can be out there,” says Stephen Bednarski, a real estate agent with Mark Martin and Company. “You get larger lots for the same amount of money, but you still have access to everything you need.”

Buyers can find single-family homes just blocks from the water starting in the $400,000s, like this $419,000, three-bedroom house just outside town.

Original Article Seen here

Over the last several months, I’ve been reluctant to share my normal updates on economic indicators for Marble Falls. The context for these updates has been turned on its head, and it seems that every statement made by every public official these days is derided by exactly 50% of the population for either politicizing the pandemic or ignoring science, even if it’s not really related to COVID. It’s exhausting and annoying.