|By Ellis Smith, Chattanooga Times Free
Press, Tenn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 12, 2011--Vision Hospitality Group today will open the doors at its new downtown Hampton Inn & Suites, one of four Chattanooga-area hotels under development this year by Vision.
"I think there's always demand that we've seen for good quality hotel rooms," said Mitch Patel, president and CEO of Vision. "There's no question 2009 and 2010 were challenging times for everyone, but the worst is over and we're confident that this is a sustainable industry and demand will grow into the future."
The $18.2 million hotel at the corner of Fourth and Chestnut streets, former home of the Regional History Museum, will feature 134 rooms for Chattanooga visitors.
It was conceived during the recession, at a time when lower construction costs allowed Patel to pursue LEED certification and design unique urban architecture, he said.
The company has three other hotels in development, with one each in Cleveland, Tenn., and Kimball, Tenn., and another $13 million hotel at Hamilton Place that cleared zoning hurdles Monday.
"There are few cities in America right now that are building hotels," said Bob Doak, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "To have a cluster of hotels as we do, I believe truly helps to generate demand."
For customers who have brand loyalty, Doak said, hotel brands like the Hampton Inn & Suites can attract new business to the community by creating new options for those travelers.
"It makes us more dense, intense and vibrant," Doak said.
The Hampton Inn Kimball, on U.S. Highway 72, is furthest along of the three hotels under development, Patel said.
Construction on the 80-room hotel will start within three months and the project is fully funded, he said. Patel believes it will be ready for guests next summer.
The Hampton Inn & Suites Hamilton Place, and the Hampton Inn Cleveland will take a little longer, with construction slated to begin in early 2012, opening in early 2013.
The Hamilton Place location is the largest with 124 rooms and 128 parking spaces on 2.4 acres, second only to the Cleveland development, which should contain 100 rooms on Paul Huff Parkway.
According to initial drawings, the Hampton Inn & Suites Hamilton Place will be adjacent to the Big River Grille & Brewing Works, next to Hamilton Place mall and southeast of Interstate 75.
"Having a hotel on this side of I-75 next to the mall is a plus," Patel said. "A six-story hotel on top of that hill is going to have great visibility for folks going up the interstate as well as for guests staying there."
Kelly Wilson, director of marketing for CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, said the Hamilton Place hotel "absolutely" would be a positive for local businesses.
"Anytime we're able to bring in transient guests, I think it's beneficial to the community and business centers as a whole," she said.
Though questions persisted at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission on Monday as to what would become of home-owners located next to the hotel, City Councilman Jack Benson and other planning commission members supported the development.
Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at email@example.com or 423-757-6315.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.
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