Downtown Columbus to get new Marriott AC Hotel in 1200 block of Broadway
An upscale Marriott property is being planned for downtown Columbus, RAM Hotels President Rinkesh Patel said on Wednesday.
RAM is in the process of acquiring the Raymond Rowe building at 1235 Broadway and plans to construct an AC Hotel on the site. It is the second hotel planned for the 1200 block of Broadway. The Columbus-based Pezold companies is planning a Hampton Inn at the corner of Broadway and 12th Street.
“It is a statement for Columbus to say we have an AC Hotel in our town,” Patel said.
There are about 70 AC Hotels worldwide and another 100 under construction in the United States, including one at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, and others in Asheville, N.C., and Savannah.
Patel said that RAM had to convince Marriott decision-makers that downtown Columbus was the right spot to locate a property that will rent rooms for between $175 and $200 per night. By comparison, the current Marriott on the southern edge of downtown rents rooms at about $125 per night, on average.
“People might not have seen Columbus was ready for it, so we had to be an advocate on behalf of the city and Uptown,” Patel said. “They looked at it and evaluated how engaged the community was. This brand is exclusive. We are not on their list. We had to go over there and tell them a story and show them what we had become.”
Two top Marriott executives visited Columbus in May and Patel and his brother and partner, RAM Executive Vice President Mitesh Patel, made the push for the AC Hotel brand. Uptown Columbus Inc. President Richard Bishop and Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce President Brian Anderson went to dinner with them. Bishop is convinced the activity downtown helped RAM land the AC Hotels flag.
“There is no question about that,” Bishop said. “I think they recognized what was happening in Columbus. It’s everything, the restaurant scene, what Columbus State University is doing and all that is happening with whitewater down on the river.”
RAM has a contract to purchase the existing Raymond Rowe building, warehouse and surface parking on at 1235 Broadway, Rinkesh Patel said. The furniture store and golf gallery are currently operating in the building and it is not to be confused with the 1200 Raymond Rowe building that was purchased by Columbus developer John Teeples.
There is no current time frame to start construction and complete the project, Patel said. The deal to purchase the Raymond Rowe property should close before the end of the year, possibly in November, Patel said.
Plans for the 106-room hotel are still being formulated, Patel said. RAM has looked at working with the existing Raymond Rowe structure and tearing that building down and constructing a new hotel.
“We are still in a phase where we haven’t gotten into the technical part of it,” Rinkesh Patel said.
Even if they use the existing building, there will have to be some new construction, Patel said.
“The way we are doing this right now is we are able to address all the needs of a parking lot on surface parking, but we would like to have a parking deck,” Rinkesh Patel said.
This project will take time, Rinkesh Patel said.
“Here is the reason why we have to get it right,” Rinkesh Patel said. “It is critical that we take our time with it and execute it well. Some of the deals we do, we go out there, do the due diligence and hit the ground running. ... But for this one we have to sit back and see how it fits in the overall story of Uptown Columbus. And how can we take different elements and we have to incorporate a lot of things, service-wise, architecturally.”
RAM owns and operates the Phenix City Courtyard Marriott, a property that is about a five-minute walk from the property the company is buying in downtown Columbus. Patel does not view the new hotel as competition for the Courtyard Marriott.
“If you look at the AC brand and the audience we are targeting, we feel that Columbus is moving from a transitional economy to a destination economy,” Patel said. “Traditionally, they were coming here for a graduation or something, but they were not coming here to experience Columbus. With all the efforts of Uptown Columbus the last 10 or 15 years, the restaurant scene in downtown, the arts district, we have a story. A person is going to come here because of all there is to do here.”
RAM, headquartered in downtown Columbus, started operation in 2003 and currently owns and operates 10 Marriott and Hilton properties in Alabama and Georgia. The company has another three hotels under construction and should open before the end of the year. There are six more properties, including the one in downtown Columbus, in the planning phase, Patel said.
The AC Hotel will get its first public hearing on Monday when RAM Hotels representatives appear in front of the Columbus Facade Board for a certificate of appropriateness. Drawings of the potential new facade will be under consideration by the city board.