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Company proposes 2 hotels in 1 building in downtown Iowa City

Gregg Hennigan, CR Gazette –

A local hotel operator said Monday it plans to put two hotels in one new building near downtown Iowa City.

Kinseth Hospitality Companies said a Holiday Inn & Suites and a Staybridge Suites will be housed in a 12-story, 140,000-square-foot building at 320 S. Clinton St. There would be 180 hotel rooms combined.

The location is near the intersection of Burlington and Clinton streets on the south boundary of downtown and by the University of Iowa campus. It’s also an area the city has identified for significant redevelopment in the coming decades.

“We feel like we found a great location that’s in proximity to the demand generators that are the university and the University (of Iowa) Hospitals and Clinics, and just the downtown in general,” said Ben Kinseth, director of operations and asset management for North Liberty-based Kinseth Hospitality.

He said putting two hotel brands in one building is not common but is seen in large metropolitan areas nationally, particularly where land is at a premium.

Holiday Inn & Suites is geared toward business travelers and short-term stays, Kinseth said. Staybridge Suites is an extended stay hotel.

There would be two lobbies, he said.

The building is to include a conference center with a capacity of 300 people and a rooftop restaurant and outdoor patio. Kinseth said the restaurant would not be from a chain.

The building is expected to open in 2014. Kinseth said the cost of the building is still being determined.

It would be on the edge of the area south of downtown called Riverfront Crossings that the city envisions undergoing a public and private redevelopment in the coming years. Jeff Davidson, Iowa City’s director of planning and community development, said the hotel building is the kind of project city officials want there and could be a catalyst for further development.

“We’re excited about more hotel rooms downtown,” he said. “We think that has the potential to bring some smaller-type conferences … and the long-term stay hotel is obviously a market that we don’t have in Iowa City.”

Downtown Iowa City currently has two hotels, the Sheraton Iowa City Hotel and hotelVetro.

Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he did not know specifically what the downtown hotel market looked like, but he said occupancies and visitation for the area as a whole is strong and has been growing by about 4 percent annually for the past decade.

He also praised Kinseth Hospitality and said they obviously believe the downtown area can support the hotels.

“I think it will be a terrific anchor for Riverfront Crossings, and to have it owned locally and developed locally is significant,” he said.

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