Opryland gets new hotel neighbors

Monday, January 21, 2008 at 1:10am

Ray Dayal and his partners are banking on hitting a market for mid-priced hotel rooms in the Music Valley area.

In March, Pinnacle Hospitality Partners plans to start construction on its second hotel there, a 113-room Holiday Inn Express, along McGavock Pike. Pinnacle has a 123-room Hampton Inn & Suites under construction around the corner off Music Valley Drive.

“These are two strong mid-market brands,” Dayal said. “Both brands were lacking in the area.”

The hotels also happen to be in the shadow of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Over the years, Music Valley businesses have benefited from the hotel as well as the Grand Ole Opry.

Downtown merchants expect quite a boon for their business when the now $635-million downtown convention center is completed in 2012 if all goes as planned. Whether or not Gaylord’s $400-million expansion has the same impact is a question.

“That’s a guessing game,” said Johnny Walker, who owns three hotels in the Music Valley area. “We have had some good years and some bad years with (Gaylord).”

The hotels catch overflow from the hotel or are an option for conventioneers looking for a cheaper hotel rooms than Opryland.

Gaylord plans to begin construction late this year on 400,000 square feet of convention and meeting space along with more than 400 rooms, pushing the total rooms to nearly 3,300 rooms.

The company has said that the expansion would bring an additional 400,000 visitors to Nashville and have an economic impact of $165 million.

“I have tremendous confidence in the management and marketing of the Gaylord operations that they going to make this convention center one of the best in the Southeast,” Dayal said.

Neighboring hotels aren't the only ones that could benefit from the expansion.

Michael Smith, manager of Cooter’s Place across from Opryland, said the hotel has helped with business. Nearly three years ago, actor and former Congressman Ben Jones, who played Cooter in the hit television serious Dukes of Hazzard, opened a museum and shop featuring the show.

But Smith said most business comes from the Grand Ole Opry, which also is owned by Gaylord.

“This is their area and we are participating with them,” Smith said of Gaylord. “The more this area booms, the more business we all do.”

Walker said business was better in the area when Opryland theme park was open.

“We lost a good 25 percent out here,” Walker said, adding that two of his three hotels still aren’t doing the same level of business there were before the park closed in 1997.

He acknowledged that he isn’t going broke either.

“We’re holding it in the middle of the road,” Walker said.

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By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The MCC will turn out to be a money pit. At 635 million and counting it will never do anything but suck money out of our pockets and take up space better used for retail or condos. Let Gaylord spend their own money to build a convention facility. The conventioneers can all visit Opry Mills and 'Cooter's Place'.Back to Music Valley Drive, I'm surprised the Gaylord folks aren't whining to Metro with their hand out because competition has moved into the area. I notice from the picture that one of the older properties in the area is coming down.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

If it is truly "time for truth" then let it be known that you have no background or expertise to discuss this issue. First of all the $635M does not come out of your pocket. Part of it comes out of Gaylords pocket as well as the other hotels in Metro Davidson Co. In essence they are spending money they generated to add on to their facility. Second, since Gaylord is a private company they reap the majority of the benefits of our booming tourism industry (which by the way is the 2nd largest industry in the city)The downtown economy can be greatly enhanced by building our own facility (that you do not pay for)and adding hundreds of new conventions and meetings to our downtown core. Try to educate yourself on this issue before you speak.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 7:00

producer, that is pure mumbo-jumbo. What you are describing is tax increment financing, with about 80 million going TO and not coming FROM Gaylord. So basically this is a municipal bribe from Metro to it's largest competitor. Since you likely work for Gaylord or the CoC you already know this. Yes, the hotel tax is going up, as is the tax on rental cars (which I use regularly), and as you know that tax is paid by the end user. But let's get serious here about how on earth the increase in the hospitality fees is realistically going to cover a 635 million (plus) facility that will be a white elephant as energy costs, new technology and terrorist threats render the convention trade obsolete. Metro is in a budget crisis and our politicians want to waste money on this????

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Producer I thought you pimped for the downtown bars only on the Tennessean site. Not everyone falls for the "only the tourists" will pay line. Since there are tax breaks and municipal debt on the line that puts everyone on the hook for the monstrocity. Besides, it would be nice to see Metro do something for the neighborhoods and stop with the attention on downtown. What's good for downtown is not necessarily what is good for the rest of the city. What's good for downtown is mostly only good for downtown. Maybe we can change the law and use the money to pay for real jobs instead of tourism related jobs.