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HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Hotel developer Earl Steinert’s Home2 Suites by Hilton is adding 99 rooms to the market.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Hotel developer Earl Steinert’s Home2 Suites by Hilton is adding 99 rooms to the market.

Be Our Guest: 500 hotel rooms in the works

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Hotel construction boomed in 2017 – with no signs of slowing in the coming year. Currently, five hotels are being built, with two more potentially adding to the mix of places for visitors to rest their heads in the Queen City – including a possible expansion at Hotel Vandivort downtown.

At the beginning of 2017, there were 5,645 hotel rooms in Springfield, according to Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Tracy Kimberlin. Between Holiday Inn Express, the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and SpringHill Suites on the north side, Vib by Best Western on East Sunshine and a downtown Moxy boutique property, there are another 500 rooms in the works.

Hilton announced Dec. 20 that its newest Springfield property, Home2 Suites by Hilton, is open for business at 2756 N. Glenstone Ave., off of Interstate 44.

According to CVB data provided by spokeswoman Susan Wade, the average occupancy rate January through November 2017 in the Queen City was 67.5 percent – up from 62.4 percent for the same period in 2016. The lodging industry also improved its average daily rate to $83.92 through November 2017, up from $81.09 during the same time period in 2016.

Kimberlin attributes the increases to continued demand for hotel rooms.

“As demand goes up, the price also goes up. So the supply stays constant,” he said.

Room to grow
Looking ahead into more new growth for 2018, the owners of Hotel Vandivort are considering adding rooms, co-owner John McQueary confirmed in an email Dec. 21.

“It is true that we have been researching a possible expansion and are in the later stages of due diligence,” he said, declining to release further information.

Kimberlin said he understood the expansion may be to the tune of 50 rooms. McQueary declined to disclose possible locations for the expansion.

According to Greene County assessor records, Hotel Vandivort development group MBH LLC owns a parking lot at 260 E. McDaniel St., adjacent to the hotel. Brothers John and Billy McQueary own MBH, according to Springfield Business Journal reporting.

Hotel Vandivort opened for business in July 2015 following a $13 million renovation project by general contractor Larry Snyder & Co. of the 109-year-old former masonic temple. It has 50 hotel rooms, 14 suites and three meeting spaces.

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is behind a hotel banner change at 621 W. Sunshine St., near Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium. Cara Walker of Walker Hospitality Group LLC confirmed the company sold the 621 W. Sunshine St. hotel to Morris’ Big Cedar Lodge in December 2017 for undisclosed terms, adding it is likely to reopen in late January as Angler’s Inn.

Additionally, a new potentially 120-room hotel franchise may build on Springfield’s south side, at 1220 E. Lark St. A portion of the 3.2 acres owned by State Bank of Southwest Missouri Inc. is being sold to an undisclosed buyer, said the bank’s senior vice president Tom Fowler. He declined to disclose a timeline for the sale to close.

“There is a lot of due diligence going on right now. We have a contract on it with a company supposedly turning it into a hotel,” said Fowler, noting State Bank plans to eventually construct a branch at the remainder of the site.

The property is currently under evaluation by Springfield City Council for rezoning to a planned development district No. 360, which, according to council documents, allows for temporary lodging uses, including hotels.

Geoffrey Butler, architect and founding partner at Butler, Rosenbury & Partners Inc. with a hospitality portfolio, represented State Bank at the Dec. 11 council meeting. He told Springfield Business Journal the undisclosed developer currently is applying for a franchise – identifying Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts as potential flags.

“He hasn’t got that approved yet,” Butler said. “There are several brands that he’s considering and, at this point, I don’t know where he’s at on that application process. They’ve got pretty rigid guidelines for that. They have to do market studies and make sure they aren’t creating conflict with other franchisees in the area.”

Growing pains
Not all hoteliers are jumping on the new development bandwagon.

Developer Earl Steinert of EAS Investment Enterprises has apprehension regarding the growth rate of hotel construction. Steinert, who just added 99 rooms to the market as the developer of Home2 Suites, said he doesn’t think Springfield’s out-of-town traffic will fill the incoming 500 rooms for some time.

“The city is growing, but that is increasing the rooms by 5-10 percent, and you can’t increase that much without having an effect on the existing (hotels),” he said. “I don’t think there is any question that it’s going to take a year or two to fill up 500 rooms.”

Kimberlin said hotel traffic is about 45 percent leisure, 35 percent business, 10 percent meetings and conventions, and 4 percent sporting events. With the September 2017 opening of Wonders of Wildlife, Steinert said he expects the attraction to help fill rooms.

But is it enough?

“I do feel that with Wonders of Wildlife, the occupancy has been a good year,” he said. “It has been up across the city, but not enough to fill 500 rooms.”

On the flip side, Steinert said the coming federal tax reforms should contribute to an increase in business and corporate travel.

“Current tax reduction is very progressive to all business, which hopefully helps fill up hotels in Springfield, and all Missouri, too,” he said. “I think the new tax law is going to be a tremendous boom to business. Overall, I think the business climate will be up.”

Butler said he is not as concerned about filling rooms, because many of the new hotel branches are niche markets – like Vib catering to millennials or extended-stay rooms to visiting families with children.

“The brands are targeting these niches,” he said. “I think if you follow the trend, you see the market in and of itself really being broken down into these target segments instead of making everyone fit into this one box.”

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