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Here come the hotels

Lots of downtown hotel construction going on, or about to go on.

George R. Brown Convention Center

The area around the George R. Brown Convention Center is about to see a burst of hotel construction as developers plan several new projects, two of which will offer more moderately priced rooms.

The new projects are planned for sites just outside the convention center’s front doors, making this the most active period for hotel construction in this part of downtown in a decade.

Houston hotel firm American Liberty Hospitality is planning a 300-room property along Crawford between Capitol and Rusk.

The 14-story building will have two brands under the same roof: a Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites.

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A second project, to be built on the same block as Massad’s property but fronting Rusk, will be a Hyatt Place.

The 11-story hotel will be developed by College Station-based Oldham Goodwin Group and Phin-Ker of Houston. The group expects to break ground on the 261-room property by January and open by the summer of 2015.

Hyatt Place is considered a “select-service hotel,” which offers a slightly bigger amenity package than a limited-service property. Rooms typically include free breakfast, Internet service and coffee throughout the day.

A third property will be a 1,000-room Marriott Marquis planned for a site just north of Discovery Green park and west of the convention center.

Financing for the $335 million Marquis project, expected to open in 2016, will come in part from Houston First, which operates the city’s arts and convention business. The agency is providing funds to buy the hotel site and build an adjacent parking garage. The new hotels are expected to be up and running by the time Houston hosts Super Bowl LI in 2017.

City leaders have been pushing for more hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center – something convention bookers look for when selecting a city.

Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the additional room types downtown will help boost convention bookings.

They will also serve the growing leisure traveler segment.

“We’re starting to get a lot more leisure traffic,” he said. “Our image has improved dramatically.”

See here for some background. There’s still a lot of open and underused space on the east side of downtown, so it’s good to see this moving forward. The city has been trying to get more hotel space for the GRB for years, in the hope of making it more competitive with other convention centers. At least with the Super Bowl and other big sporting events coming to town, it’ll be nice to have. I do wonder, however, how well this will mesh with the New Dome Experience, since the New Dome’s new life as a multi-purpose event center might make it a competitor with the GRB. Not as much as it would have been had it been turned into a hotel/convention center itself, of course. Anyway, if you like seeing construction cranes in and around downtown, it’s going to be a good couple of years for you.

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