The hotel development pipeline is at an all-time high, and it's not just big metropolitan centers like Chicago, Dallas and New York City that are beefing up their inventories. Across the Midwest, hotel chains are planting first flags, from boutique entries to dual-branded properties, giving cities of all sizes a greater ability to extend their convention-marketing reach and hone their competitive edge.
Earlier this year, Columbus hosted the NCAA Women's Final Four and solidified its place on the national stage as a major contender for professional and college sporting events. The Greater Columbus Convention Center, which unveiled a $140 million expansion and renovation in 2017, has wasted no time since then, winning two additional major events from USA Fencing: the 2020 Junior Olympic Championships and the 2021 December North American Cup. Columbus also will host the American Society of Association Executives' annual meeting in 2019.
Now, less than a year after the city's convention and visitors bureau, Experience Columbus, commissioned a study to explore ways to enhance existing hotels or develop new ones, comes news that a new 22-story, 470-room tower will be built next to its existing headquarter Hilton hotel. The project will bring the total number of guest rooms at the property to 1,002. Plans call for the expansion to be completed in 2021.
In addition, five more hotels are expected to open in Columbus in the next two years, including a 167-room Canopy by Hilton and a 118-room Moxy, both of which are slated to debut in 2019.
Des Moines, Iowa
This Midwestern city is perhaps best known for the Iowa Caucus, the first crucial test for political candidates on their way to obtaining their party's presidential nomination. But it has been getting a lot of hotel development interest recently and is poised for a wave of new development, with some exciting new properties in the pipeline.
Kicking off the hotel inventory boom was the freshly minted, $101 million, 330-room Hilton Des Moines, which opened in March of this year with 14,000 square feet of meeting space, right next door to the Iowa Events Center.
"As the first Hilton Hotels & Resorts property in the city, we look forward to introducing the brand's world-renowned hospitality to Des Moines and fully integrating into the fabric of the community," said Dave Marr, senior vice president and global head, full-service brands, for Hilton, when the hotel opened. "Des Moines has many development projects in the works, and we know this hotel will play a critical role in supporting the influx of travelers expected to the city."
Among other new or renovated propeties slated to open in 2019 in the city's downtown is the historic Hotel Fort Des Moines, which has been closed since 2015 for a $40 million revamp. The work will bring the guest-room count from 240 to 275, and the hotel will join the Hilton by Curio Collection. A 91-room Fairfield Inn & Suites also will debut next year, and the 131-room 21c Museum Hotel Des Moines, with 7,000 square feet of meeting space, is scheduled to open in 2021.
Kansas City, Mo.
This past July, Visit Kansas City (Mo.) announced that it had booked 17 major conventions for future years, events that are expected to generate $174 million in economic impact to the city. "Visitation to our region is up, which means that the city's investments are continuing to pay dividends," said Cori Day, vice president of sales and services at Visit KC, in announcing the bookings. "When paired with forthcoming upgrades, such as our new single-terminal airport, a new Loews convention center hotel and the expansion of our streetcar line, it's clear Kansas City is a premier convention destination."
The $325 million, 800-room Loews Kansas City Hotel, the city's first major convention property to be built since the 1980s, will feature 60,000 square feet of meeting space upon opening in 2020. Also coming soon is the $25 million, 132-room Hampton Inn Crossroads, within walking distance of the Power & Light District, a new shopping and dining area debuting in spring 2019. Both of the above properties will join the 131-room boutique Crossroads Hotel, a member of the Aparium Hotel Group, which opened this past October in the city's historic Pabst Brewing Co. building.
Several other developments are being reviewed by Kansas City's planning board, including a 222-room hotel near city hall and a $63 million, 145-room boutique property across from the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts.
A proposed $277 million expansion plan for the Milwaukee convention facility, the Wisconsin Center, complete with slick renderings, might well be fueling hotel development, even though the proposal has yet to move far forward or come up with financing for the project.
The city's newest property, the 150-room Hyatt Place, opened in June 2018. Another four hotels will debut by year-end 2020, adding another 683 guest rooms downtown. Among them are a 223-room Drury Inn & Suites, a 132-room Cambria Hotel and the dual-branded Home2Suites/Tru by Hilton, which will share a 213-room building next to a 115-room Holiday Inn Express.
The Gateway to the West is looking to hold on to its title. This past October, St. Louis officials unveiled a $175 million construction plan for the America's Center Convention Complex, noting in a statement: "The need to expand the complex has never been more urgent as cities across the country are making large investments in their convention centers and luring lucrative meetings and events to their communities. It is time for the St. Louis region to come together and invest in America's Center that is critically important to the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and the State of Missouri."
Hotel development, meanwhile, is forging ahead. This October saw the opening of a dual-branded 101-room Residence Inn and 110-room Courtyard by Marriott. Just days ago, the 146-room Angad Arts Hotel, a boutique property that lets you choose your room based on color and mood, debuted in the city's arts district. Scheduled to be unveiled next month in the historic 1893 Union Trust Building is the 140-room Hotel Saint Louis, Marriott's first Autograph Collection property in the city. A $25 million 129-room Aloft Hotel, which broke ground in July this year, will open next fall.