Friday, November 4, 2011

Bryant unveils hotel design

By Steve Vied, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Friday, November 4, 2011 2:07 PM CDT

Developer Malcolm Bryant unveiled the final design and site plan for a seven-story, 151-room hotel on Owensboro’s riverfront Thursday that will feature walls of glass on one corner and a full-service restaurant with outdoor seating on another. It will contain about 120,000 square feet and guests will be greeted by a wall covered with flowing water in an expansive lobby with 14-foot to 18-foot ceilings, outfitted with original art.

The hotel, to be a high-end, convention-class Hampton Inn & Suites costing $20 million, will be 85 to 90 feet high. The restaurant will face the Ohio River and the Mitch McConnell Plaza, according to Bryant. A ground floor retail store of 3,800 square feet that Bryant envisions as an place to buy products made only in Kentucky will also have a river view.

A third of the hotel’s rooms will be suites. When finished, it will be downtown’s tallest building and will match the number of stories of the former Executive Inn Rivermont’s central tower, the hotel it will replace.

Bryant said his company, Malcolm Bryant Corp., hopes to break ground on the hotel by January. It is set to open in late 2013. Bryant unveiled the plans for the hotel at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Rooster Booster breakfast at Owensboro Christian Church, calling it a one-off design unlike any other Hilton property.

“Hilton looks at this as a unique property, special for Owensboro,” Bryant said. “It’s not copied off anything else.”

Bryant stressed that the design of the hotel creates a good transition from the $48.4 million convention center to the hotel and to the rest of the revitalized downtown area east of the hotel.

“Our job was to transition from the events center to the rest of downtown and I think we’ve done an excellent job of that,” Bryant said.

Other planned amenities for the hotel include an indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness center, a second-story bridge connecting to the adjacent convention center, three elevators, a 13,000-square-foot commons area and second-floor meeting rooms. Veterans Boulevard will run in front of the hotel between it and the Ohio River, with a large grassy area separating the hotel from the river’s edge. The south side of the hotel will face Second Street and resemble the front, with an exterior mixing stone, brick masonry, glass and balconies. The hotel parking lot on Second Street will have 150 spaces and a charging station for electric cars. In a further nod to green technology, the hotel will

have solar energy panels. Bryant said it would be a environmentally green project and Kentucky’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified hotel.

Bryant thanked local elected leaders for insisting on a well-done revitalization plan for downtown.

“They recognized that we need to do it well,” he said. “If we don’t do it well, it’s not worth doing. It’s too competitive out there. Our political leaders have understood that.”

Bryant said the new location of the hotel fronting the Ohio River allows it to take advantage of the community’s greatest asset. Originally, the hotel was planned for the corner of Frederica and Second streets, where the state office building now sits. The plan now is to convert the state building to a bluegrass center.

Mayor Ron Payne, who introduced Bryant, said the hotel design “far exceeds our expectations.”

“We’ve talked about the Wow factor and Malcolm has been the biggest proponent of that,” Payne said. “He certainly followed his own advice. What he has proposed will impress anybody who comes to Owensboro.”

Payne thanked Independence Bank, which is providing a loan to Bryant to build the hotel.

“I want to recognize Independence Bank for stepping up and financing the hotel,” he said.

Local residential developer Benny Clark was at Thursday’s presentation and complimented the design of the hotel.

“I love the architecture and how it blends with the convention center,” Clark said.

Cindy Mulligan, a board member of the Impact 100 organization, said Bryant’s hotel will compare with hotels she has seen in other cities.

“I love the outdoor dining,” she said.

When the meeting ended, a string of people lined up to congratulate Bryant, with several saying they were looking forward to the hotel opening for business.

Steve Vied, 691-7297,