COLUMBIA — Renovation plans for the historic Tiger Hotel finally appear to be moving forward, co-owner John Ott said.
"We've made significant progress within the last two or three months," Ott said. "We have a party that's showing interest financially."
- February 2009: Tiger Hotel owners file the city's first application for tax-increment financing.
- July 2009: The City Council approves the Tiger Hotel application.
- June 2010: Renovation of the Tiger Hotel was scheduled to have been completed.
- Summer 2010: Tiger Hotel owners ask for extension until Jan. 31, 2011.
- June 7, 2010: Extension approved by City Council.
- November/December 2010: Tiger Hotel owners ask for extension until July 2011.
- November 2010: David Parmley of Broadway Lodging, LLC, files TIF application for redevelopment of Regency Hotel.
- Jan. 4, 2011: Public hearing scheduled to discuss TIF application.
Ott said he was not at liberty to disclose the interested company's name or to say whether a deal had been reached yet.
A tentative schedule was put forward, though. "We anticipate that construction will take place this spring, or earlier," Ott said. "It should end by fall."
In July 2009 the Tiger Hotel became the first project in the city to be approved for tax-increment financing, in order to convert it into a boutique hotel. The renovation was originally supposed to begin as soon as possible and be completed by June 2010. It did not take off due to the absence of a financier.
The City Council granted the owners an extension until January 2011. They are applying for another extension that would give them until July to begin the project.
Plans to construct another TIF-funded boutique hotel at 1111 E.Broadway, where the Regency Hotel stands, are making their way through the complicated application process. The owner, David Parmley of Broadway Lodging, LLC, hopes to open a Hotel Indigo if his application is approved by the council.
After renovation, the Tiger Hotel is expected to have 69 rooms. Hotel Indigo would open with 112 rooms, 12 more than the Regency has.
A boutique hotel, also known as a "lifestyle" or "design" hotel, is loosely defined as one that targets a smaller market size than a big chain, has local flavor and provides guests with a more personalized experience.
At past meetings of the Tax Increment Financing Commission, both commissioners and Parmley have mentioned college towns such as Urbana-Champaign, Ill., and Bloomington, Ind., as having the kind of boutique hotels Columbia is seeking to encourage. Both cities have a Hilton Garden Inn, another boutique brand. Columbia has a Hilton Garden Inn, but it's near U.S. 63 and Interstate 70.
In Champaign, the Hilton Garden Inn and an adjacent hotel, Homewood Suites, were built using the city's "infill development program." The program provided about $1.6 million through abatement of property and sales taxes, and a five-year rebate on hotel-motel taxes.
Steve Horve, the developer behind both projects in Champaign, said the incentive package was "the difference between getting it developed and not getting it developed."
Horve said both hotels have been the city's biggest earners in terms of occupancy and revenue since they opened in 2006. They were built in place of an existing hotel, the Chancellor Hotel, which had fallen into disrepair.
T.J. Blakeman, city planner for Champaign, said the conference space provided by the Garden Inn is "a very good asset." He said that the infill program differs from TIF, however, and that Champaign is considering Columbia's Tiger Hotel as a model for downtown planning.
"We've really needed a hotel downtown, and I look to Tiger Hotel as a perfect example of what we'd like to see," Blakeman said.
He added that the city would definitely be open to using TIF to fund a future project.
Broadway Lodging's TIF application calls for funneling $5.1 million worth the additional property taxes that would result from the higher value of the Hotel Indigo back into the project. The agreement also would allow the developer to use $1.75 million worth of sales tax revenue from the new hotel to finance the project.
According to a previous Missourian report, the Tiger Hotel's TIF application was passed in order to further downtown development and convert it into a destination place.
The Regency TIF application states that the project "will encourage and provide a compelling incentive for out of town guests to extend their overnight stays to further explore and take in the many cultural, shopping and dining venues that Downtown Columbia has to offer."
Tom Rose, the Columbia School District's representative on the TIF Commission, said the Regency case is not the same as Tiger Hotel. Columbia Public Schools opposed the Tiger Hotel TIF because it negatively affected the funding it received from local property taxes.
"It's a different type of hotel," Rose said. "With the Indigo brand, it's more of a chain atmosphere, and it's not as completely upscale as the Tiger."
He also said Parmley's track record inspired more confidence in the hotel's financial success. Parmley runs four Hampton Inn hotels in Missouri and Colorado, including the one in Columbia.
Chris Belcher, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools, said the school district doesn't stand to lose anything this time around. The district receives $18,000 in taxes from the Regency. Under the TIF act, current rates would be frozen so that the amount received by the district would remain the same. Belcher said having the hotel torn down and replaced would just be an added bonus.
"It's like having a loaf of bread or not having a loaf of bread," he said.
The TIF commission's public hearing for the Regency application is Jan. 4. Rose said he generally supports the request, but he's open to hearing whether the public has concerns.
"The way it (The Regency Hotel) is now should not continue," he said. "It's not beneficial to the city."