COLUMBIA – Although the $20 million* DoubleTree hotel project won't be finished until next summer, developer Dave Parmley said he plans to create a mock-up guest room near the site this year.
Parmley has signed an agreement to rent a property adjacent to his building site from Richard Ditter, who owns D-Sport on Walnut Street. The lease agreement will take effect in May.
Parmley said the leased building space will allow him to have a temporary office and sales department near the hotel project. Parmley also said he plans to create a sample guest room "to show what our real guest room would look like."
"People can come by and the salesperson would lead them to look around and take some photographs and stuff like that," Parmley said.
Ditter said that because there is no DoubleTree hotel in Columbia, the sample room would help people interested in booking rooms see the standards set by the company and get an advance look at the bed, the television and other furnishings in the room. The DoubleTree will be built where The Regency hotel previously stood on Broadway.
"Nothing is worse than a convention planner booking a hotel, and all of a sudden you go 'these beds are awful, and what were you thinking about putting us in here?'" Ditter said.
Ditter said the property, which totals 1,700 to 1,800 square feet, has been used for storage since the last renter moved out about a year and a half ago. His lease with Parmley will last for the duration of the hotel construction, Ditter said.
The DoubleTree hotel will be Parmley's second hotel in town. He also developed the Hampton Inn & Suites on Stadium Boulevard, which opened in 2008.
Parmley bought The Regency hotel in November. Demolition of The Regency will be completed by the end of this month. Then crews will stabilize the soil and take required measurements. Parmley said that work will take 45 to 60 days.
"Then we'll start to construct the foundation and to build back up," Parmley said. "So we'll be looking at summer 2013."
Parmley said the temporary sales office and sample guest room will be open by the end of this year.
The lease agreement with D-Sport also includes a right of first refusal clause, which gives Parmley the first option to buy the building if it comes up for sale. Both Ditter and Parmley, however, denied any real interest in such a transaction.
"I can go on record and say we're not negotiating to sell that piece of property to Dave Parmley," Ditter said, adding that the right of first refusal would simply expire once the lease term is over.
Parmley also said he has no immediate interest in buying the property. But his attorney suggested the clause, and Ditter agreed.
Ditter said he was excited to see improvements in the area, including the North Village Arts District, Orr Street Studios, new student housing and, soon, the new hotel.
Ditter said "the exciting trend" is that developers in the area have spent extra money to make sure their buildings are aesthetically pleasing.
"Everybody that's building in this area plans on being around for a long time," Ditter said. "There's no speculative construction going on."
Ditter said he was impressed when Parmley showed him an architect's rendering of the hotel, which features a bar and a restaurant on the roof.
"If I have salesmen and visitors come into Columbia, I would take them up to that restaurant," Ditter said. "It's really going to be a neat view of the city of Columbia."