Plans for the new downtown Columbus Hampton Inn have changed in the past two months as the company developing the project is moving forward with the project.
Original plans for the hotel at 1201 Broadway called for renovation of the former Aaron’s Rents building, combined with new construction on the rear of the property closer to Front Avenue.
The revised plans, which have already received regulatory approval from the Columbus Facade Board, call for demolition of the existing four-story brick structure. They are replacing it with a six-story building housing 88 hotel rooms and possibly a top-floor conference center, Pezold Management Chief Operating Officer Tracy Sayers said on Tuesday.
The new construction will also include a double-level parking deck with about 100 spaces on the back side of the property closer to Front Avenue.
“We could not save the building,” Sayers said this week, pointing to the cost effectiveness of the project. “We were working so hard to make that happen that we reached a point where it made no sense.”
Approval for the demolition of the building was granted at the December meeting of the facade board, which governs the look of downtown structures. Demolition inside the building is under way, Sayers said. The outside will begin to come down early next month, he said.
Once the site is cleared, construction on the new hotel will start immediately. The facility is expected to be open late this year or early next year, Sayers said.
“We anticipate that construction will take about 11 months,” he said.
Valley Hospitality, a Pezold Company, will operate the new hotel, which is a Hilton property. Valley Hospitality currently owns and operates the downtown Marriott at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway.
The new structure at Broadway and 12th allowed the developer the opportunity to expand the project. It was originally going to be 60 rooms in the renovated building, but 28 additional rooms have been added.
“We plan to maintain the historic nature of downtown,” Sayers said. “We will use red brick on the exterior.”
A 350-person conference center is being planned for the top floor. It will likely include roof-top access and views of the Chattahoochee River, a block away and downtown Columbus.
“We have not fully committed to the conference center, but it is something that we are strongly considering right now,” Sayers said.
The building is being designed by Barnes/Gibson/Partners, a Columbus architectural firm that recently completed the $27 million Columbus State University College of Education and Health Sciences complex directly across 12th Street.
The current structure was built in the 1930s and remodeled in the 1980s to include a new brick facade.
It has been a winding road to get to the brink of construction. The project started cloaked in secrecy. In August 2014, the property was purchased for $1.25 million by EJWH LLP. The corporation’s registered agent and general partner is J. Barrington Vaught, a Columbus attorney who specializes in real-estate law. Vaught repeatedly declined to say who was involved in the partnership.
About a year ago, Sayers confirmed that Columbus businessman Jack Pezold was the trustee and controls the property. Pezold Management had been working on plans for the site for more than a year, and presented a proposal in late 2015 to Hilton Worldwide for the Hampton Inn on the site.
It is not the first major demolition project in that area and won’t be the last.
In 2015, a six-story Broadway office building and part of the former Ledger-Enquirer printing plant were razed to make way for the Columbus State porject.
The Hampton Inn will be one of two new hotels under construction this year in the 1200 block of Broadway. In December, Columbus-based RAM Hotels finalized the purchase of the Raymond Rowe property at 1225 Broadway. Their plans call for a 106-room AC Hotel, an upper end Marriott property.
Demolition of the 1225 Broadway building, on the same side of the street as the Hampton Inn project, should begin this summer, said Rinkesh Patel, president of RAM. The projected opening for the hotel is late 2018, Patel said.