Developer plans city’s first new downtown hotel tower since 1985

08/27/2013 5:43 PM

08/27/2013 5:43 PM

A Tennessee developer plans to build a 257-room hotel in the Crossroads Arts District, the first significant new hotel project in downtown Kansas City since the Vista International opened in 1985.

Chartwell Hospitality LLC plans to break ground early next year on a 10-story building that would house two hotel franchises, a Marriott Courtyard and a Residence Inn. The project would include a 166-space garage and, in a rare approach, the developer will not seek city tax incentives for the project.

“We think the downtown market is ripe for a new hotel,” Will Schaedle, Chartwell‘s acquisitions and development manager, said Monday. “We’re happy to be the developer.

“We think there’s a niche for a new hotel, and it’s a good spot with the Power & Light District nearby and development pushing south, and it’s within walking distance to the central business district.”

While several hotels have opened downtown since 2000, including the 213-room Hilton President Kansas City, the 217-room Hotel Phillips, the 193-room Aladdin Hotel and 43-room Ambassador, all were renovations of existing buildings. The 22-story Vista, now the 550-room Kansas City Marriott Downtown, was the last new hotel tower to be built.

The Chartwell hotel is planned for the block between Main Street and Baltimore Avenue from 16th Street to Truman Road. It would be south of Sporting Innovations LP’s new offices in the former Hanna Rubber Co. building at 1511 Baltimore.

The hotel project site does not include the old Lane Blueprint building at 1520 Main, which Sporting Innovations owns. Historic preservationists have mounted an effort to save that building, which was built in 1889.

The project is also one block east of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and on the new streetcar route planned for Main Street.

The Chartwell project would require the demolition of a former auto dealership at 1535 Baltimore and a smaller building immediately behind it on Main Street. That property was built in 1946 for Allied Motors as a Chrysler and Plymouth sales building, later becoming Prestige Motors. Most recently, the Weiner family owned the building, which housed the Nathan Weiner & Associates and Sterling Inc. operations, including a Christmas tree showroom. The building was vacated in June.

“I think the buyers are as happy as the sellers,” Larry Weiner said. “They have an objective to build a hotel, and it seems like they’re not wasting time.”

Demolition of the existing buildings, which are not listed as historic landmarks, is expected before year’s end.

The cost of the hotel project was not disclosed, but Schaedle said it would be entirely privately financed. In recent years most, if not all, projects downtown and in the urban core have required some type of incentives, either property tax abatements, tax-increment financing or both.

Chartwell is based in Franklin, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville, and owns about 30 hotels nationwide. The company also has 1,000 hotel rooms under development in the U.S., and Hilton Hotels & Resorts recently named it the Hilton Garden Inn developer of the year for a project in Nashville.

Schaedle said having two hotel brands share a building is a relatively new concept. Residence Inn, which is an extended-stay brand, would use 104 rooms. Courtyard Marriott, which is geared to shorter stays, would occupy 153. Guests at both hotels would use the same swimming pool, conference center and fitness room.

The 190,000-square-foot hotel is expected to be completed by fall 2015. The Marriott Courtyard would feature a bistro and bar. The Residence Inn would have a free breakfast area for its guests and a manager’s hospitality room.

“This will be an institutional-quality, class-A project that will be a great addition to downtown Kansas City,” Schaedle said.

Whitney Kerr Sr. and Mike Posten of Cassidy Turley commercial real estate represented the property owners. Kerr has been marketing the site for several years. At one point, it was touted as a potential location for the 1,000-room convention hotel project that the city pursued.

“I’ve been very outspoken that I think it’s the best spot for hotel development because the blocks are larger and the streets are wider,” Kerr said.

A convention hotel still is being suggested for the site immediately west of the planned Chartwell project. It includes a city-owned parking lot on Baltimore Avenue and the American Hereford Association property at 1501 Wyandotte St.

The city, however, is in discussions with Omni Hotels & Resorts regarding a potential convention hotel on the block occupied by the historic Power & Light Building. Under that concept, the Cordish Co. would redevelop the old skyscraper into residences, and the hotel would be built on the vacant lot to the west.

Kerr also is the broker for the planned sale of the historic Savoy Hotel and Savoy Grill at Ninth and Central streets. A Louisville, Ky., firm, 21c Museum Hotels, is pursuing a $47.5 million plan to restore the historic property into a 120-room luxury hotel and restaurant and is seeking city incentives to help finance the deal.

“Between the Savoy deal and this Chartwell deal, it adds 400 hotel rooms, and that helps the downtown supply,” Kerr said.

Officials with the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association, however, continue to believe a major convention hotel is necessary to attract large conventions. The organization also opposes the use of city tax incentives to assist smaller hotel projects.

Jon Stephens, the association’s interim president, did welcome Chartwell’s announcement, noting that the Tennessee developers would not seek public incentives.

“I think it’s great that a developer sees the value and energy of what’s happening in Kansas City,” Stephens said. “It’s a great show of confidence of where we’re headed.”

Suzie Aron, the president of the Crossroads Community Association, said the new hotel should find a ready customer base of creative people visiting the neighborhood’s art galleries and advertising and architecture businesses.

“We’re really excited, and we want to be in collaboration with them,” she said.


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