Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bryant proposes Hampton Inn & Suites

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:07 AM CST
A $20 million, 150-room, five-to-seven story Hampton Inn & Suites hotel, attached to 75,000-square foot convention and events center, will grace Second and Frederica streets in downtown Owensboro under a proposal still to be worked out between the developer and the city.

On Monday the Messenger-Inquirer learned that The Malcolm Bryant Corp. of Owensboro had been selected as the company that would be recommended to build the hotel. On Tuesday it became official -- the company owned by local longtime commercial real estate developer and property manager Malcolm Bryant is the "preferred developer" for a downtown Owensboro hotel.

Nick Brake, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., told the City Commission at its Tuesday work session that a special committee had designated the Owensboro company as the developer of the hotel and was recommending that the city work exclusively with the company to reach a development agreement.

Mayor Ron Payne expressed confidence in Bryant and his company to build and operate the hotel.  "Look across the community at all the successful projects Malcolm has done," Payne said. "We're excited about his willingness to do this. He's a strong corporate citizen. He cares about this city."

Brake said Bryant's was the most financially sound of the three finalists' proposals.

"Malcolm's group had the best financial model to pull it off," he said. "It is really important to get a hotel and convention center back in this community and he provided the best model to do that. We did a very objective process. There were three strong candidates and at the end of the day, his was the best for the community. It is a very compelling package. He has the means and the track record to do it."

Bryant called it a profound day for his company.

"Regardless of the economic climate, we are in the best position with the cooperation of public entities to have a very successful placemaking initiative downtown," Bryant said. "This will add very high quality and value to our downtown and the community. One thing we have learned is, it's important to do things very well or don't waste the money or the energy. Customers demand it."

Bryant said he sensed that local government and residents were behind the downtown revitalization project. An upscale hotel figures to be a cornerstone of the project.

"We saw the stars aligning correctly with the citizenry, public entities and our company to be very successful," he said. "I believe we will be incredibly successful. We're extremely excited.'

Bryant said construction of the hotel, pending the signing of a development agreement with the city, could start this fall and the hotel would open sometime in 2012. Ideally, the convention and events center would open at the same time, he said. The hotel would feature a destination restaurant with its main entrance on the street but accessible from inside the hotel and capable of catering convention center events.

"We're moving very cautiously forward," Bryant said. "The market is not here right now for this hotel. It will have to be created. ... We have the opportunity to explode. This hotel and everything that goes with it must succeed."

Bryant said the hotel project he is proposing has the potential to be a true mixed-use project, with retail, office space and residential components.

Brake said the only incentive requested by Bryant was to be given the land for the hotel at no cost. The city is negotiating with the state to purchase the site, where the state building now sits, for $1.74 million.

When the requests for proposals from hotel developers were issued last summer, five proposals were received, Brake said. Two were eliminated early. One of the remaining three eventually dropped out, leaving two "viable, pretty strong" proposals, according to Brake.

Steve Vied, 691-7297,