Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Hotel Plan for Downtown Advances

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Hotel Plan for Downtown Advances

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | The city's three-decade attempt to lure a major business-class hotel to the downtown area took a major step forward Monday night when the Tuscaloosa Planning Commission approved the developer's plans for a $27 million Embassy Suites.

The commission voted 8-0 to recommend the plan to the City Council, which will have final say on the development by Kemmons Wilson Inc. of Memphis, Tenn.

All indications are that the council will give its blessing to the project later this month.

Last month, the council sold the city-owned 2.02-acre tract commonly known as the CityFest lot to Kemmons Wilson for $1.855 million. That followed a council-approved agreement last year to give Kemmons Wilson the right to draw up plans for the development.

Kemmons Wilson's plans call for an eight-story, 154-bed hotel that will be on the northwest corner of Greensboro Avenue and University Boulevard.

That site has been a paved city parking lot since the 1990s. Before that, it was a lot for the old Cityfest celebration, hence its name.

City Councilman Bobby Howard, who serves on the planning commission, made the motion Monday to accept Kemmons Wilson's plan.

"Kemmons Wilson has been very diligent to bring a product that will be very beneficial to Tuscaloosa," said Howard, whose district includes the CityFest site.

Jimmy Duncan, a project manager for McGiffert and Associates LLC of Tuscaloosa, which is working with Kemmons Wilson, said the proposal likely will be brought to the City Council either next Tuesday or the following Tuesday, Oct. 30.

If the council gives its blessing, the developer then would have to secure of number of permits from the city and state before ground could be broken.

Danny Bounds of Bounds & Gillespie Architects, Memphis, said that process could take several months and that it's most likely the groundbreaking would not occur until the first quarter of next year.

It then would take about 15 months to construct the hotel and then a little longer to get it ready to open. …

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