A Columbus company is moving forward with a new downtown boutique hotel in the heart of the entertainment and business district, Pezold Management Chief Operating Officer Tracy Sayers said on Tuesday.
The Hampton Inn, at 1201 Broadway across 12th Street from the new Columbus State University College of Education and Health Sciences, will include a mix of renovation and new construction.
It will occupy the corner building that started as a Montgomery Ward in the 1930s and was most recently an Aaron’s Rents. It has been vacant for several years.
“What we are looking at is having a boutique in the middle where everything is happening,” Sayers said. “It will be a hotel that will appeal to milennials and business travelers.”
Construction will begin immediately and the hotel could be completed sometime next summer, Sayers said. The construction process is expected to take about 11 months.
The current four-story structure that was built in the 1930s and remodeled in the 1980s will be renovated as part of a 60-room hotel owned by an entity controlled by Columbus businessman Jack Pezold.
The first step in that is the removal of the current tan brick facade to expose the original red bricks, Sayers said. The Columbus Facade Board approved that work on Monday.
In addition to work on the existing building, a 30,000-square-foot addition will be added to the back along Front Street in what is now a parking lot across from the Eagle & Phenix condominiums. The plans call for two levels of parking with hotel rooms and rooftop event space constructed on top of the parking deck. The new construction will match the height of the existing building, Sayers said.
A small piece of the current facade has been removed.
“When we remove the tan skin, we will get back to the original 1930s Montgomery Ward facade,” Sayers said.
The building is believed to have always been retail space, last used for Aaron’s Rents.
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.
Earlier this year, Sayers confirmed that Pezold is the trustee and controls the property. Pezold Management has been working on plans for the site for more than a year, and presented a proposal late last year to Hilton Worldwide for the Hampton Inn on the site.
Hilton then notified other local Hampton Inn owners and operators about the proposal and solicited additional proposals to replace the Hampton Inn on Airport Thruway, which will lose its franchise at the end of this year.
Vision Hospitality, a company based in Chattanooga, Tenn., with local business connections, had an agreement with the Development Authority of Columbus to purchase 1.75 acres in the Historic District, adjacent to the Pezold-owned and -operated Marriott and proposed a 125-room Hampton Inn.
Vision Hospitality withdrew that proposal after the Pezold companies filed suit in Muscogee County Superior Court to halt the sale because it claimed the $50,000 purchase price was less than fair market value. Judge Gil McBride sided with Pezold, but the Development Authority has appealed that ruling.