New hotel coming to Fort Smith airport property

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

A new hotel is coming to the corner of Phoenix Avenue and McKennon Boulevard, bringing with it both an increase in occupancy and about 30 new jobs.

The Home 2 Suites will be part of the Hilton brand and will add a second hotel at the intersection for hotel developer Driscoll Properties.

President and CEO Marion Driscoll said adding the additional hotel will allow him to meet the increased demand he is seeing at his other hotel at the intersection, Homewood Suites.

"We're seeing our occupancy rise every year. Our demand ratio versus rooms ratio is stronger, to where I'm not able to fulfill all of my guests' needs at the Homewood. That will help the overflow."

The four story, 88 suite, 55,000 square foot hotel will be LEED certified, Driscoll said, and will be built on land owned by the Fort Smith Regional Airport.

Airport Executive Director John Parker said the lease was structured for 50 years, bringing in annual revenue for the airport of $27,000 for the first five years. The rate paid by Driscoll in future years will increase, with the airport netting $2.5 million in proceeds as a result of the lease agreement.

The lease, which does not include provisions for profit sharing, would be good for all airport patrons, Parker said.

"Any development that occurs on the airport (property), whether aeronautical or not, is actually good news for the airport itself. But a hotel development is very good because it stabilizes rates for non-aeronautical users of the airport."

While the new development will allow Driscoll to address his capacity issues at Homewood Suites, it also allows him "to market to a different clientele that I'm not able to market to right now."

"Made to be customized, our stylish suites are packed with perks and high-tech amenities that are just your style," is the message you see on the hotel brand's website. The types of amenities include a kitchen area, media hub, cook tops, saline pools, integrated laundry and fitness facilities, outdoor areas that include walking paths, and a business services area.

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The final designs for the multi-million dollar hotel are not yet complete, but Driscoll expects a ground breaking sometime in February or March 2014 with a grand opening by February 2015.

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