Council takes next step toward conference center

Tyler City Council is moving forward with plans to bring a hotel conference center.

TYLER - The Tyler City Council voted unanimously to execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Tyler and Champ Hospitality to continue work to bring a conference center to Tyler.

The conference center will be attached to a private hotel. The proposed brand, per the MOU, is Aloft Hotels by Starwood Suites, a global high-end hotel company with 1,300 locations worldwide.

“This will be Aloft Hotels’ first presence in Tyler,” Mayor Martin Heines said. “A new hotel desiring to establish itself in this market is a good sign. It means that there is a demand for new inventory to accommodate both business and leisure tourism.”

Like the previous letter of intent approved by Council on April 27, the MOU is a non-binding agreement that provides additional details as to the responsibilities of each party. The MOU supplements the LOI and further summarizes the terms for construction of improvements as well as the operation of the future hotel conference center.

“This step allows us to identify our partners and create a strong framework to meet community goals,” said Joe Champ of Champ Hospitality.

The conference center will be located on city-owned property adjacent to the new Village at Cumberland Park retail development at Broadway and Loop 49.  The City owns almost 18 acres, a portion of which will be leased to the hotel developer for the project. The site will also feature a three-acre lake.

“The hotel conference center is a public-private partnership, with the City primarily funding the conference center and private investment constructing the hotel,” Heines said.  “This project has been a long time in the making with the City exploring many options over the last 5 years.”

The budget for the project will not be finalized until the design is complete and bids are obtained; however, it is estimated to be around $48 million. The city’s portion for the conference center project will not exceed $19 million.

The proposed conference center hotel is anticipated to generate new hotel occupancy tax income for Tyler, in addition to new sales tax revenue and property tax income.  The hotel will provide around 203 rooms and the conference center will offer 29,000 square feet of meeting space.

“Most conferences would need significantly more hotel rooms than the 203 incorporated into the project,” Heines said.  “The overflow would utilize room inventory in the community, which benefits our existing hotels.”

The conference center will specifically target conferences that attract out of town visitors.  It is not a civic or community center. 

“Tourism brings fresh dollars to our economy,” explained Heines.  “This is money from outside our region being spent in Tyler.  The result is jobs for Tylerites and economic vitality.”

Champ Hospitality has more than 34 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Champ Hospitality has worked with all of the major brands. Champ has developed, or has under development, nine hotels. Champ is currently President of Gateway Hotel One, Ltd. and developed the Sheraton Hotel and Event Center in McKinney.

“I am optimistic that this project will come to fruition,” Heines said.  “The Council will continue to scrutinize the project as each phase to protect the investment of the citizens of Tyler.”

(© 2016 KYTX)


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