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Newport Hospitality Group Building $13 million
 Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia, South Carolina

By Tanya Fogg Young, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Nov. 23, 2004 - A $13 million Hilton Garden Inn is planned on Columbiana Drive in the Harbison area, Virginia developer Michael Pleninger said.

Construction is to begin in the first part of 2005, and the 140-room hotel will open in early 2006, said Pleninger, president of Newport Hospitality Group, based in Williamsburg, Va.

The hotel will be built on about three acres next to Smokey Bones restaurant, said Tom Burch, a partner with Avtex Commercial Properties, which handled development for Newport Hospitality Group.

Newport Hospitality Group, which also would manage the new Hilton Garden Inn, has 28 hotels from Florida to Massachusetts, Pleninger said.

The proposed hotel received site plan approval in July, said Marc Mylott, Columbia zoning administrator.

Increasingly, the Harbison Boulevard and Lake Murray exits off I-26 have become prime areas of hotel development, said Tom Sponseller, president of the S.C. Hospitality Association.

The new Hilton Garden Inn will join a number of hotels -- some along Columbiana Drive and just off the road, Sponseller said. The new hotel will be near Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Wingate Inn, among others.

"It's just indicative of that market out there," he said. "The hotels get business travelers and have a good weekend market."

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