|By Ellis Smith, Chattanooga Times Free
Press, Tenn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 13, 2012--A $40 million hotel development on Shallowford Road soon could claim the title of Chattanooga's most lavish inn, according to plans supplied by Embassy Suites.
Few hotels can boast room service by Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, a complimentary cocktail hour and enough space in each suite to comfortably live with a wife and kids for a few weeks.
Kevin Richards, vice president of hotel operations for the Legacy Property Group, said the 190,000-square-foot hotel was "an offering that's not in the area at this time."
"It will be something very, very special," Richards said.
Building materials such as stacked stone, wood beams and stucco will garnish the building with local flair. Water features in the lobby will evoke the nearby Tennessee River, while the floor's stone tile design will be a work of art, said Richards, who is helping to develop the property.
But the biggest feature, and the hardest to cram into a bullet point, is the sheer amount of space.
Don't like what the wife is watching on TV while you're waiting for that filet mignon? Go watch something on the suite's other television. Unsure what to do about that uninvited guest? Fold out the sofa bed in the living room.
Chattanooga's upcoming Embassy Suites -- the first new hotel the brand has built in three years -- will kick it up a notch, even from the chain's nominally luxurious standard, said developer Ken DeFoor.
"The finishes will be a step up from many Embassy Suites," DeFoor said.
The seven-floor, 203-room hotel will tower over Shallowford Road, offering guests a view of the city on one side and a spring-fed lake on the other.
A large stone and glass terrace on the second floor will seat 200 close friends for an outdoor gathering overlooking the lake.
"That hotel will be the signature hotel in the area," DeFoor said.
Of course, the Embassy Suites also boasts the usual features like a swimming pool, sauna and exercise center, as well as a fridge, microwave and wet bar in every suite.
More importantly, builders are including 10,000 square feet of convention space to encourage the business set to adapt their travel plans.
In fewer than 12 months, interstate motorists will pass the luxury hotel on their way to Knoxville, as it begins to peak above the treeline.
But a year doesn't seem like a long time to DeFoor, who has been working on this project with his brother Byron DeFoor for half a decade.
"Financing for a hotel is very difficult these days," he said.
Planning started in 2005, but the project slowed to a crawl when the credit markets dried up.
Even after the hotel is done, the Waterside development on which it sits could be more than five years from completion. Waterside still has 18 acres of developed land and 60 acres of undeveloped land left to fill, DeFoor said.
"We're working through this thoughtfully and trying to make something that the city and our neighborhoods will be proud of," he said. "I think things will continue to go at a slower pace until the banks and the lenders are freed up."
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