The Hotel San José is a tale of transformation and community revival. Originally a bustling motor court in the 1930s on South Congress Avenue, the motel fell into neglect as Austin evolved. In a remarkable turn of events, Liz Lambert, a former prosecutor, acquired the rundown hotel in 1994. Initially planning to renovate it one room at a time, she ran it as a low-rent residential hotel while securing funding. The documentary “Last Days of the San José” explored urban renewal’s impact on human relationships. With funding in place, renowned architects Lake/Flato helped shape the hotel into a Texas minimalist masterpiece featuring reclaimed hardwood, custom leather chairs, granite pathways, and landscaped gardens.