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June 2012
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Construction on Owensboro hotel coming next summer

By Keith Lawrence The Messenger-Inquirer

OWENSBORO -- Construction is scheduled to start this summer on a 110- to 120-room hotel across Second Street from the Owensboro Convention Center.

It should open in the summer of 2018, Jack Wells, a partner in the project, said recently.

"We'll announce the name of the brand for the new hotel in about 90 days," he said. "It's a national brand. It will be a first-class hotel."

The addition of a third downtown hotel will bring the number of rooms within a block of the convention center to about 400.

The Executive Inn Rivermont, which used to sit on the site of the convention center, began with more than 600 rooms. By the time it closed in 2008, it was down to about 260.

The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau says there are 1,369 rooms currently in town. The new hotel will take that to 1,479 or 1,489.

"My personal feeling on the third hotel is two-fold," Darren Peach, the CVB's hospitality services director, said recently. "It will help with large groups -- 1,000-plus attendees --to a degree. Maybe it will help attract more regional or national business."

But, he said, "More so, I think it will help with the intermediate-size state and local associations -- 400 to 700 attendees. That size could probably be accommodated with the three hotels alone. The large ones like the Kentucky Bar Association next year will have to use outlying hotels regardless."

Peach said he's been told to expect two new hotels in Gateway Commons, the huge lifestyle center planned along U.S. 60 between Ky. 54 and Pleasant Valley Road.

Those hotels, plus the new one downtown, "will go a long way in helping attract the large groups as well," he said. "Including them, we could be adding 300 to 360 quality hotel rooms in the next few years. That has to help attract groups."

Wells said the entire block across Second from the convention center will be taken up by the new hotel and 145 to 160 apartments.

Plans call for the L-shaped building to feature green space on Second Street and ground-floor parking on the Third Street side.

Rents for the apartments haven't been set yet, Wells said.

"Plans are still flexible," he said.

The hotel and apartment building will each be at least five stories, he said, "and we may add a sixth."

City officials, who have been talking about a need for more downtown apartments for years, say the project should cost about $33.2 million.

The city will build a new 400-space parking garage across Locust Street from the east side of the hotel.

It can serve the hotel and some of the 840 people expected to be hired by Alorica Inc.'s new customer service center at Third and Frederica streets over the next three years.

The cost is pegged at $9.26 million.

The city also bought two properties in the block where the hotels and apartments will be built for $285,000 and $885,000 to clear the way for the project.

City officials will now sell the property to Wells and Matt Hayden, the developers of the hotel/apartment complex, so the project can move forward.

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