published Friday, August 31st, 2012

Embassy Suites celebrates work on Hamilton Place hotel

Embassy Suites hotel is under construction near Hamilton Place.
Embassy Suites hotel is under construction near Hamilton Place.
Photo by John Rawlston.
  • photo
    Architectural rendering of the Embassy Suites hotel scheduled for completion in June 2013.

By the numbers:

• 203 — number of rooms

• $40 million — total value

• Total space — 190,000 square feet

• Dedicated hotel spaces — 165,200 square feet

• Ruth's Chris Steakhouse — 9,000 square feet

• Developers — DeFoor Brothers Development and Legacy Property Group

• Architect — PFVS Architects

• Designers — Carver & Associates

Source: Legacy Property Group

Steak in bed.

It sounds too good to be true.

Yet that's the promise that developers have made to future guests at the half-completed Chattanooga Embassy Suites on Shallowford Road.

More than 100 workers on Thursday celebrated the official halfway point in construction of the $40 million, seven-story Embassy Suites hotel, which includes the integrated Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

"Our room service menu will have standard fare, and we'll have the same sizzling steak we serve in all Ruth's Chris restaurants," said Markham Oswald, who manages 10 locations across the nation for Ruth's Chris.

Ruth's Chris room service is made possible by an extra-large kitchen that can prepare steaks for up to 225 customers in the restaurant itself, and another 300 in the attached 10,000-square-foot hotel convention space, Oswald said.

He believes the location will stay busy, whether in service of hotel guests or local diners.

"Being in this area of town was a choice, not just because of the strong business in this area but because of the strong residences," he said.

The Scandanavian topping-out celebration held Thursday traditionally commemorates the installation of the final beam in a building, and workers usually place a tree on top for good luck.

In this case, officials added BBQ to the mix, offering workers an extra incentive to finish the project by April 13.

"The only real work that remains is the addition of structural steel, and finishing the interior," said Bruce Holmes, president of general contractor Welbro Building Corp. "We're really right at 50 percent."

Holmes handed out T shirts to welders, painters and truck drivers with a photo of the completed hotel on the back.

The T-shirt rendering shows a 190,000-square-foot, 203-room luxury inn with stucco, brick and stacked stone -- a far cry from the current structure.

At present, the building consists mostly of drab concrete, purple foam walls and dark interior spaces lit by wire-framed bulbs.

To developer Ken DeFoor's mind, the disconcerting geometry of the exposed steel girders signals progress on the building, which has gone from dirt pile to half-done since work started in March.

"I think we'll have things here with a little more kick and a little bit more pop in it than other places," DeFoor said.

While he shied away from saying that the Embassy Suites will be the most upscale hotel in town, other officials weren't so coy.

"This is a very different hotel than anything that exists in this market, and we think people are going to respond very well," said David Martin, president of the Atlanta-based Legacy Property Group.

The Embassy Suites and attached Ruth's Chris Steakhouse will be the first full-service hotel in the Shallowford Road area, he said, and is closer to the airport than its downtown hotel rivals.

"We think there is really a demand here for upscale accommodations and restaurants," Martin said. "We're taking a risk, but it is a calculated risk."

When the hotel is completed, a 40-foot atrium with a fountain in the middle will feature local stacked stone, wood paneling and dramatically-lit columns, said interior designer Becky Keiser, who works for Griffin, Ga.-based Carver & Associates.

"What we've tried to do is incorporate a lot of the natural elements that are found in Chattanooga and tie that into the property," Keiser said.

While construction has proceeded smoothly so far, it's not yet a done deal, cautioned Holmes.

The hotel's two retail spots aren't yet filled, he said, and likely won't be until the project is farther along.

But one thing's for sure, he said.

"It will certainly be the nicest facility on this end of town," Holmes said. "And the hope is, the nicest full-service place in the whole town."

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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