City finds room for another hotel

Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 1:38am

Construction is set to begin next week on another hotel along West End Avenue.

Philadelphia-based real estate developer and investor Amerimar Enterprises has scheduled a ground breaking next Wednesday to kick off converting the office building at 1808 West End Ave. into Hutton Hotel.

The developer selected Brentwood construction firm Bell & Associates as the contractor on the project. Amerimar officials wouldn’t comment. But the hotel is being pitched around town as a “boutique” hotel that will have 250 or more rooms.

“That’s a big boutique hotel,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Typically, boutique hotels have fewer than 150 rooms, oftentimes averaging about 100 rooms. Hotel Indigo, a boutique that opened recently at 1719 West End, has 139 rooms and eight suites. Atlanta-based Wesley Hotels Group also converted an office building into hotel rooms. It opened last October.

Amerimar may not hang around Nashville for long. The company’s strategy is to buy properties, refurbish or redevelop, stabilize and then sell. It holds property for as little as a year and sometimes as long as six to seven years.

For example, in 2006 Amerimar bought the Washington Marriott in Washington, D.C. and sold it last year after refurbishing the lobby and rooms, finding new uses for retail space and adding rooms.

Amerimar started as David G. Marshall & Co. more than three decades ago. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the developer teamed up with the Bass brothers, the Texas billionaire family that made a fortune in real estate, oil and other investments including RJR Nabisco and Disney.

The developer owns office buildings and apartments as well as hotels. With hotels in particular, Amerimar owns the Sheraton Atlanta and Philadelphia hotel and condominium tower The Rittenhouse.

In addition to the Washington Marriott, past hotel projects include The Hotel George and Georgetown Inn in Washington, D.C.; Hotel Delek in Houston; and the Radisson flagged 150 East Huron in Chicago.

In Nashville, Amerimar is tapping into a downtown/midtown hotel market that has tightened over the past couple of years. Industry statistics indicate that average occupancy will finish 2007 over 70 percent again and show another increase in average daily rates.

Developers see both as favorable conditions to build.

Drew Dimond, a Nashville-based hotel industry consultant, said the hotel industry has been improving nationally.

“Nashville isn’t an exception,” he said, adding that double-digit increases in daily rates tracks with other cities around the country.

Last year, about 2,500 rooms were on the drawing board, mostly in downtown/midtown. Instead, the hotel rooms have trickled into the market, mostly limited-service and boutique.

Currently more than 600 rooms have been added or are immediately under construction in the downtown/midtown area.

Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites recently opened downtown. Hilton Garden Inn is getting started in midtown. And Wesley is working on another Hotel Indigo downtown.

“They won’t come in and flood the market,” said Walker Baker, executive director of the Greater Nashville Hotel & Lodging Association.

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By: Yuushii on 12/31/69 at 6:00

At least they are using an existing building to do it with. I'm just getting tired of all the high rises LOOKING THE SAME. Seriously, we've got McMansions - now we have McSkyScrapers. Sheesh!

By: dxfret on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good use for that 1960s era building...I can envision it as a very cool property. Great location near Music Row, Vanderbilt, several health care institutions, etc. The new West End Summit development nearby will really make the West End-Midtown Corridor even better.