A Chattanooga-based hotel company plans to have three new hotels in Hamilton County under construction in 2021 as the business invests nearly $50 million to prep for a post-pandemic future.
Roshan Amin, president and chief executive of Dynamic Group, said new TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotels are slated for Hixson and East Ridge.
Also, an Element by Westin, another Marriott flag and one not currently in the Chattanooga market, is to go up off Shallowford Road near Hamilton Place mall, he said.
"We'll have a wonderfully busy year," Amin said about building the new hotels, which are to open in 2022.
He said the coronavirus pandemic had slowed down Dynamic Group's plans in 2020 and work was delayed until now.
"I think there's a lot of pent-up demand that is going to come to fruition," Amin said.
Near Hamilton Place at 7013 Shallowford Road, the 131-room, seven- story Element by Westin will be the tallest hotel in that area, Amin said. A $24 million project, 60% of the hotel's rooms will hold kitchenettes, he said.
"It's a trendy, higher-end hotel," Amin said.
In Hixson, the 90-room TownePlace Suites will go up at 5248 Highway 153 on a site that for many years held a Pep Boys auto shop. That repair and retail shop was torn down earlier this year, where another developer is putting a Chipotle restaurant on part of the tract.
Amin said the $12.5 million, five-story hotel is an extended-stay product with kitchenettes in all the rooms and it will fill a hole for that kind of lodging in the Hixson area.
In East Ridge, he said, the company will build a four-story TownePlace Suites at 730 Frawley Road near the entrance to Camp Jordan. That hotel, also a $12.5 million project, will offer 88 rooms with kitchenettes, the company CEO said.
"There's a lot of activity there family-wise," he said. "It's a really good fit for East Ridge."
Amin said that site initially was to also hold a water park, but the site didn't make sense in terms of costs for the hotel company. But, he said, the company is still looking for a flatter parcel for a water park.
Dynamic Group is taking advantage of East Ridge's Border Region Retail Development District state sales tax incentive for the hotel project, Amin said. Within the district, a portion of the state sales taxes collected may be used to pay for infrastructure and other building costs.
"East Ridge is booming," he said.
Amin said Dynamic Group has two more upscale Marriott products in its development pipeline for Chattanooga to open in 2024 and 2025.
Marissa Bell, the Chattanooga Tourism Co.'s public relations manager, said the Dynamic Group's plan reflects confidence in the local hotel market. While the pandemic hit tourism, visitors will return, she said. Hotel occupancy in Hamilton County for last November, the latest period available, was 51.5% compared to 64% a year earlier.
"We definitely think it will continue to improve (in 2021," Bell said. "We had a lot of momentum heading into the pandemic."
She said a lot of people "can't wait to get out there and travel. People have been saving and anticipating that travel in the future."
Amin said ground will be broken for the new Hixson hotel on Jan. 10. Work on the Element is to start in February, while construction work has already started in East Ridge for that hotel, he said.
Completion on all three hotel properties, which will be built by Construction Consultants and Grace Construction Consultants, is slated for the first half of 2022.
Dynamic Group already has three properties in the Chattanooga area including the Holiday Inn & Suites downtown on Chestnut Street. This marks the first time the company will have a trio of hotels underway at the same time, Amin said.
But, he said, the company has done its homework and talked to local business executives about their plans moving forward.
"Come 2022, most companies will come back into the office," Amin said. "That's when more business travel will start occurring. We need face-to-face, whether we believe it or not."
Already, he said, he has seen a pickup in the leisure market, noting its local hotels are about full for the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in mid January.
"People are itching to get out and do something different," Amin said.
Bell said the Chattanooga Tourism Co., too, expects leisure travelers will be the majority of travelers in the near term.
She said that the short driving distance to Chattanooga from locations around the South better positions the city for leisure travelers.
Amin said there are plans to hire about 120 more people for the Dynamic Group's new hotels, and the lodging will bolster property taxes.
"I was raised here," he said. "I really believe in Chattanooga as my home. Creating jobs in this market is important to me and my family."
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.