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4 firms compete for new hotel on Hutchinson Island

Subheadline: 
Hutchinson Island will add 300- to 500-room center; no timeline for selection

  • Four major firms have bid to develop a convention hotel on Hutchinson Island, according to the trade center authority board. Submittals for the 300- to 500-room convention hotel will be reviewed in the next week. (Savannah Morning News file photo)

Four major firms have submitted bids to develop a convention hotel on Hutchinson Island, according to Sherrie Spinks, general manager of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, who gave an update on the request for qualifications to the trade center authority on Wednesday.

HAAD/Arcadd Inc., Capella Hotel Group and Songy Highroads submitted proposals along with CWT Savannah Holdings, the joint venture that owns the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, which is currently for sale.

Some of the proposals are hundreds of pages long and will be reviewed by board authority chairman Mark Smith and a newly formed review committee during the next week.

Smith declined to comment on a specific timeline for the process but said he was anxious to resolve the issue this year.

“That’s one of my goals this year, to select a developer or secure the expansion of the Westin,” Smith told the board. “Either way, we still get more rooms on the island.”

The committee, which consists of Smith; David Allman, vice chairman of the Georgia World Congress Center board, which manages the operation of the local trade center; Frank Poe, executive director of the GWCC; Ted Kleisner; and Dave Neises. The committee will have their initial conference call next Wednesday to begin discussions on the firms’ qualifications.

Last June, the trade center board hired Bill Moeckel of Moeckel & Co., a real estate investment and advisory services company specializing in the hospitality industry, as a consultant and the firm will serve as an advisor in reviewing the hotel submissions, Smith said.

“If we deem them qualified, we’ll ask for a proposal. I’m told that one of this respondents has the ability to build a hotel out-of-pocket,” Smith said.

The request for qualifications to build a 300- to 500-room convention hotel was sent to more than 1,000 developers in February. The deadline for submitting qualifications was March 24.

The site of the hotel would be on Parcel 7 on the island — also known as Trade Center Landing — on the other side of the trade center from the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort.

For at least five years, the trade center authority has commissioned feasibility studies and engaged consultants to look at the financing and economic development potential of a major convention hotel project on the island.

In the most recent study, begun in 2014, PKF Hospitality Research of Atlanta indicated Hutchinson Island will need at least 300 more hotel rooms if the trade center is to grow its convention business.

Smith had no additional comments on the applicants, but said he was pleased to see that CWT, which is a combination of CSX Realty Co,, the Westin and Troon-golf, chose to participate in the bid requests.

The remaining firms have completed projects around the globe and have diverse portfolios ranging from hotel development and office space to residential and commercial centers:

• Massachusetts-based HAAD/Arcadd Inc. was established in 1986 and specializes in public facility design including renovation and new construction projects. Their portfolio includes the Westin Hotel in Boston and an array of international projects in Kabul, Libya and Baghdad.

• Capella Hotel Group was established in 2002 and offers hospitality services under four profiles, Capella Hotels, Solis Hotels, Independent Hotels and Spas. The group manages properties across the globe including, The Lough Eske Castle in Ireland, Ayana Resort and Spa in Bali and The Hotel at Auburn University in Alabama.

• Songy Highroads, also based in Atlanta, which began in 2010, is a commercial real estate firm that acquires, renovates, develops, and manages real estate projects throughout the southeast. Past projects include hotels for Hilton and Marriott as well as office and residential projects. 

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