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City of Arlington, Texas Considering Placing a Moratorium on Development of Limited-service
 Hotels; 92% Of  Hotels are Economy and Midscale, Hopes to Lure
 Full-service Hotel Development

By Andrea Ahles, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 18, 2007  - No more motels. Hello, hotels.

The city of Arlington has temporarily halted approval of new limited-service facilities while it considers a moratorium on lower-end hotels.

With the Super Bowl coming in 2011, the city is concerned that while visitors will come to Arlington for the big game, they will not stay in the city because of the lack of high-end hotel options, instead opting for hotels in nearby Fort Worth or Dallas.

City leaders hope a moratorium could help them lure the full-service hotel Arlington has been coveting.

"When you surround [a full-service hotel] with a lot of limited-service hotels you take a lot of their revenue away because [they're] cheaper," said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, who will not support any new limited-service hotels permit applications.

"I want to incentivize big full-service hotels with convention centers in our community, and I'll do whatever it takes to get them in here."

The city won't get any private full-service hotel developers without significant incentives, said Greg Crown, a hotel adviser in the Dallas office of PKF Consulting.

Lack of business travel

Full-service hotels depend on a steady stream of corporate travelers who are willing to pay high room rates, Crown said. And while Arlington has good leisure business and decent group business, the city has virtually no business travel because there are very few corporations with significant offices in the city.

While good for tourism, the opening of the new Cowboys stadium and the town center development, Glorypark, in 2009, will not help Arlington attract corporate travelers, he said.

"You don't see high-rise office development in Arlington, whereas in Las Colinas, you have 20 to 25 million square feet of high-end office space," Crown said. "Those are the realities of what drives the full-service hotel business, and it's not going to get better overnight for Arlington."

He said the city will not solve its corporate traveler problem with the limited-service moratorium, although he said it is a step in the right direction.

Three full-service hotels

According to a city staff report, only three of Arlington's hotels are considered full service: the Hilton Arlington, the Sheraton Arlington and the Crowne Plaza Suites.

The report also cited research that classified 92 percent of Arlington's hotels as economy and midscale, which typically charge low daily room rates.

So far this year, the city has issued building permits to two limited-service hotels, both Hampton Inns.

A Holiday Inn that includes a restaurant is also under construction on Wet N' Wild Way.

Arlington is not alone in trying to limit the number of motels it has in the city. Grapevine and Garland have enacted ordinances that specify higher standards for hotels and motels. In Grapevine, hotels must have at least 300 rooms, a full-service restaurant and full-time on-site staff.

The Arlington City Council is not expected to discuss a new hotel ordinance at its meeting Tuesday but directed city staff to craft an ordinance that includes tougher standards for hotels.

Linda DiMario, chief executive of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, said a possible motel moratorium is not intended to slight the limited-service hotel industry or the city's current motel property owners and managers.

"The issue for us and them is how much more inventory can you introduce without then starting to cannibalize that hotel segment," DiMario said. "What we want to do is manage the new hotel inventory so that everyone has an opportunity to profit and benefit."

WHAT KIND OF HOTEL IS IT?

Arlington's zoning ordinance spells out three different types of hotels:

Full-service hotel -- Hotels where the entrance to each room is in an enclosed area or in an exterior court within a secured area. They may also contain various personal service shops. Examples: Sheraton Arlington, Hilton Arlington. The industry standard typically also includes a restaurant or room service.

Extended-stay or residence hotel -- A hotel that offers more than 5 percent of its rental units for stays of 30 consecutive days or more. Examples: Residence Inn by Marriott, Country Inn and Suites

Limited-service hotel or motel -- A building or group of buildings whose main function is to provide temporary lodging and does not fit the other two classifications. Examples: Sleep Inn, Hampton Inn

Source: City of Arlington

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Andrea Ahles, 817-548-5523 aahles@star-telegram.com

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To see more of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dfw.com.

Copyright (c) 2007, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

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