McKibbon Hotel Group Inc. of Gainesville, Ga., will build a 115-room Hilton Homewood Suites hotel on the north end of the Little Rock block that will be home to MacArthur Commons, an 84-apartment complex announced Aug. 1 by Moses and Tucker Real Estate.
Wes Townson, vice president of McKibbon, said Friday in response to a call from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that construction of the hotel will begin after the first of the year and be completed about a year later.
It will be McKibbon’sfourth hotel in downtown Little Rock. Townson offered no price on the project, saying it was in the early stages of planning.
Only one of the three existing McKibbon properties will be in direct competition with the Homewood Suites, which is an extended-stay hotel, said Michael Terry, a professor of real estate at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The developer opened the Residence Inn by Marriott on River Market Avenue earlier this year.
“The Homewood is built for the person who is stay-ing at least a week … and are working on a project or are relocating,” Terry said, adding that it is a “strong competitor” with the Residence Inn.
Obviously, McKibbon is “bullish on Little Rock. Which tells me that business must be growing somewhere in Little Rock,” Terry said.
Scott Reed, who is a major developer in the rejuvenation of Main Street, said he thinks there’s room for more hotel rooms in downtown.
“I’d be surprised if it’s the last hotel McKibbon builds in Little Rock,” said Reed, who is president of Reed Realty Advisors of Portland, Ore. Analysts who follow the hotel industry see the city as “a very strong off-the-hotel-radar market.”
He described McKibbon as “a very talented operator.” Its website lists a portfolio of60 hotels in the Southeast.
Projects of the magnitude of a hotel are often played close to the vest until the developer is ready to make an announcement.
Moses and Tucker, who will raze the old Arkla Gas Co. building to make roomfor the apartments, said at the time of the announcement in August that negotiations for plans were approaching completion for the northern half of the block defined by Capitol and River Market avenues and Rock and Fourth streets. They would not saywhat those plans were.
Tony Bozynski, director of planning for the city, said at a Sept. 24 meeting of the city Board of Directors, in response to a question from a city director, that the department had received no plans about that part of the block, but that “we understand … one thing we’ve heard is a hotel.”
Jimmy Moses, who is partner with Rett Tucker, said onMonday that “we’re not ready to talk about [the property].”
Two collaborations by the McKibbon Hotel Group and Moses and Tucker in building two downtown hotels suggested a third.
Townson said the collaboration in the Homewood Suites development amounted to the sale of the property, about a half-acre.
McKibbon also owns and operates a Marriott Courtyard in First Security Center on President Clinton Avenue and a Hampton Inn and Suites on River Market Avenue.
The Homewood Suites hotel will be the second Hilton property in downtown. The other is the Hampton Inn and Suites.
The Homewood Suites will be the fourth hotel built in the past decade, taking the total to 461 rooms. The Marriott Courtyard, which has 120 guest rooms, was completed in 2004, followed by the Hampton Inn and Suites, 119 rooms, in 2008, the Residence Inn, 107 rooms, this year.
The downtown market is dominated by the 418-room Little Rock Marriott and the 288-room Doubletree, a Hilton property.
Terry said that the segmented nature of the hotel industry explains why a particular operator, such as Marriott, can build several hotels in one market with little fear of in-house competition.
Front Section, Pages 1 on 10/12/2013
Print Headline: Hilton to go up in LR near new apartments