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Developer Michael Earl Planning a $11.4 million 108 room
 TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Omaha, Nebraska

By Christine Laue, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 16, 2008 - A four-story, 108-room hotel serving mostly business travelers is planned at the site of the former Guitars and Cadillacs nightclub near 108th Street and West Dodge Road.

Michael Earl, a Lund Company broker who is a managing partner in the hotel, said construction should start in mid- to late-August on TownePlace Suites, an extended-stay hotel by Marriott. He projected an opening date of spring or summer 2009 for the $11.4 million project, which will be the first TownePlace Suites in Nebraska.

"I think there's a pent-up demand for this type of product in the area," Earl said. "When I was looking for the right developer, I had two other (hotel) developers interested in this location also."

He said that in the 1990s, land sought by hotels along West Dodge Road was not available for purchase.

"They wanted to get the office-type business, being close to I-680, because you have so much office in that immediate area," he said.

With that in mind, Earl bought the property at 10865 West Dodge Road in November 2005.

The 1978 building on the 1.9-acre site originally was home to a Stuart Anderson's Cattle Company restaurant and operated as several nightclubs -- Bourbon Street, the Drink, Club 108 and most notably Guitars and Cadillacs, a country-themed club that closed in 2003 after filing for bankruptcy.

After partnering with Dave Holcomb of the Provo, Utah-based hotel development and management company Zions Hospitality, Earl sold the property in April to a group of investors, West Dodge Lodging Associates LLC. Douglas County Assessor records show he paid $1.3 million for the property and sold it for $2.05 million.

Earl, a managing partner on the project, said that in a one-mile radius around the site there are 1,161 rooms at eight hotels, but there is still an unmet demand for extended-stay hotels.

"The Hampton Inn at 102nd and Dodge is always busy and near capacity all the time -- not that we're the same product, but we're very similar, and we hope to take business from the existing hotels but satisfy more of the demand that is out there," he said.

The TownePlace Suites' Web site describes its rooms as 25 percent larger than typical hotel rooms, with fully equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas.

Earl described it as a medium-priced hotel, with a per-room rate of $99 to $109 a night.

Last week, Marriott International, one of the world's largest hotel operators, lowered yearly profit estimates, reporting that second quarter profit fell 24 percent and that revenue per available room, a key measure of hotel strength, could decrease this year in the United States by 1 percent, according to the Washington Post.

"From our standpoint, we're not really concerned about that," Earl said. "We think that we have a good location."

Marriott operates a full-service hotel nearby in Regency and its other brands are represented on West Dodge, leaving only TownePlace Suites available for franchise opportunities, he said.

"Marriott controls where their hotels go, and they don't want to cannibalize another Marriott product."

The nearest TownePlace Suites hotel is in Des Moines, Earl said.

While the hotel's address is on West Dodge Road, the property actually sits on a frontage road east of Grisanti's Italian restaurant.

The demolition of the former nightclub building started in May and finished the first week in June.

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To see more of the Omaha World-Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.omaha.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

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