Embassy Suites hotel project is biggest downtown Chattanooga investment in more than a decade

Hotel 'turns asphalt to activity' in revitalizing riverfront, River City leader says

Contributed photo by Vision Hospitality / The proposed 7-story Embassy Suites hotel to be built at 4th and Broad Streets in downtown Chattanooga will include 184 hotel rooms and a rooftop bar and first-floor restaurant.
Contributed photo by Vision Hospitality / The proposed 7-story Embassy Suites hotel to be built at 4th and Broad Streets in downtown Chattanooga will include 184 hotel rooms and a rooftop bar and first-floor restaurant.

Chattanooga's biggest hotel operator plans to make the biggest new investment in downtown in more than a decade by building a $54 million Embassy Suites hotel at Fourth and Broad streets.

Vision Hospitality broke ground Monday for a 184-room hotel and conference facility the company plans to build over the next two years beside the Majestic 12 Theater in the 300 block of Broad Street.

Mitch Patel, the founder and president of Vision Hospitality who has already grown the Chattanooga-based hotel business to include 42 hotels in nine states, said the Embassy Suites brand should appeal to both business and leisure travelers. The seven-story hotel will feature 5,000 square feet of meeting space, including an event center and a rooftop bar, along with 4,800 square feet of retail space along Broad Street for a street-level restaurant, bar and coffee area and restaurant, Patel said.

"We are thrilled to begin construction on this project in our hometown of Chattanooga, just steps from our company headquarters," Patel said during a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at the Embassy Suites site. "This hotel will be a favorite for locals and an idyllic location for guests with its rooftop and lobby-level bar in the heart of the city, enhancing the experience for anyone visiting the destination."

The new hotel is one of a half dozen new hotels being built or planned in and around downtown, but Patel said the location, brand and overall growth of Chattanooga gives him confidence in another hotel in the inner city. Embassy Suites will be the sixth downtown hotel for Vision Hospitality since Patel built his first hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, in 1999.

"There are quite a few hotels under development now in Chattanooga, but we have a lot of confidence in this market," Patel said in an interview. "We've been in this market for 26 years, starting our business right here, and through good times and tougher times Chattanooga continues to outperform other markets. Long term, we believe in this market and that's what gives us confidence."

The Embassy Suites is the biggest single hotel investment for Vision Hospitality, although the company is developing even bigger projects across its nine-state portfolio. Coming out of the pandemic with the revival of travel, Patel is pursuing more than $500 million in new projects, with 16 projects now in the company's pipeline.

The Embassy Suites in Chattanooga represents the biggest new building project in downtown since BlueCross BlueShield completed its $299 million corporate campus atop Cameron Hill in 2009.

Emily Mack, the president of the downtown development agency River City Co., agreed to partner with Vision Hospitality in 2018 to develop the L-shaped parking lot that wraps around the 12-screen Majestic Theater. River City built the downtown theater in 2009 and leases it to AMC for the Majestic 12 theater, which took over Carmike's Bijou Cinema 7.

Although the pandemic pushed back the start of the new hotel, Mack praised the plans for the new Embassy Suites, which she said will be a transformative project "turning a parking lot into a special place" and "turning asphalt to activity" along one of the main entrances into downtown.

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly said the addition of the Embassy Suites hotel across the street from the newly renovated John Ross building that houses nearly 700 employees in the headquarters of Steam Logistics will transform the Fourth Street corridor.

"Very quickly, this has gone from a blighted eyesore to a real gateway to Chattanooga that we can all be very proud of," Kelly said during Monday's groundbreaking ceremony.

The hotel will be Vision Hospitality's first Embassy Suites hotel and will be built by Humphreys and Associates Contractors, which expects to complete the structure by the summer of 2025. When complete, Chattanooga Tourism Co. President Barry White said, the new hotel will help draw 250 to 300 more people every night to Chattanooga, helping to propel the region's $1.5 billion hospitality industry, which already employs more than 31,000 workers.

"Mitch Patel not only creates great products, but great experiences as we saw at the Edwin Hotel and will see again with this hotel," White said.

Patel's Vision Hospitality has built or developed nearly 20 hotels in the Chattanooga region, including Cleveland and South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Vision Hospitality sold the 12-story Doubletree hotel on Chestnut Street nearly two years ago after building The Edwin Hotel in 2018 just three blocks from the new Embassy Suites location. Vision Hospitality opened the Kinley Hotel on Market Street two years ago.

Another boutique hotel, the 108-room Moxy hotel, opened in 2018 at Market and King streets and recently sold for $14.5 million in a sign of the health of Chattanooga's hotel industry.

Rivermont Hospitality of Chattanooga is building a 123-room La Quinta hotel at Cowart and 13th streets. Plans have also been announced for a $40 million Hilton hotel in the former Chattanooga Bank building at Seventh and Market streets and a $25 million boutique hotel has been proposed at Main and Michell streets on the Southside. Work is beginning this spring on a $33 million, 180-room hotel across from the Chattanooga Convention Center that will feature both the Homes2Suites and Tru by Hilton brands.

In the 300 block of Market Street, Drury Hotels recently purchased the downtown Sports Barn for another new hotel.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.

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