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Proposed Iowa City hotel will be the first of its kind in Iowa

BY NATHANIEL OTJEN | SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 6:30 AM

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A new 12-story hotel tower may soon come to Iowa City, and while the proposed facility has found support among city officials, many students are wary of a new addition to the downtown scene.

Kinseth Hospitality Companies publicly announced a project that will be the first of its kind in Iowa. The group wants to build a tower incorporating two different hotel companies — Holiday Inn and StayBridge Suites — near the Burlington and Clinton Street intersection at 320 S. Clinton St.
City officials expressed support for the project on Monday.

“We’re really excited about it. It’s really gratifying to see someone step forward with this project,” said Jeff Davidson, the city director of Planning and Community Development. “As a concept, we think this is fabulous and look forward to working with them.”

Kinseth is based in North Liberty and operates more than 90 hotels and nine restaurants in 14 states, according to the press release.

“Iowa City is a unique town, and this is a unique project,” said Ben Kinseth, the director of operations and asset management at the firm. “We’ve been working on this project for a couple of months now. We thought Iowa City was really ready for new hotels in the downtown area.”

The first floor of the proposed building will be the lobby area with floors two through six holding Holiday Inn and the remaining floors holding StayBridge Suites. There will be 12 floors containing 180 rooms.

Holiday Inn would house people who want to stay for short-term periods of time and StayBridge Suites would accommodate individuals who want an extended stay.

The tower is laid out vertically containing the Holiday Inn and StayBridge Suites because it’s difficult to acquire land, Kinseth said.

“It’s a phenomenal location," he said. "We’re going with a tall building because it’s hard to get a lot of land.”

Davidson noted that the proposed building will be close to the Court Street Transportation Center and that city officials want the building to connect directly with the parking ramp. He also discussed why this location is important to Iowa City.

“We think it’s important to have some area for the downtown to grow — the only direction right now is south,” he said.

Officials at the Sheraton, the Iowa House Hotel, and several local businesses including the Mill declined to comment on the project Monday.

Davidson said Kinseth Hospitality hasn’t produced an application for the city to review yet. The tower has a projected opening in the second quarter of 2014.

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton backs the building proposal.

“It’s a significant investment that is very likely to enhance the appeal of the Riverfront Crossing District and the area south of Burlington Street,” he said.

The project has garnered mixed opinions from students who live near the location of the proposed tower.

Many renters at the 366 S. Clinton Post Apartments expressed concerns about the proposed project.

The Clinton Post Apartments are located next to the proposed site for the tower.

“I don’t think they need another hotel. I just don’t think there’s much demand — there are plenty of hotels on the edge of town,” said Paul Wittau, a UI senior who lives in the Clinton Post Apartments.

UI juniors Jaclyn Concialdi and Stephanie DeVivo had mixed feelings about the project because they live next to the tower site.

“It will definitely be good for family weekends,” Concialdi said. “It would bring more people into the city.”

Devivo wasn’t fond of the project, noting the busy intersection.

“It would be a bad idea — it’s already busy over there,” she said. “They should build another apartment complex, not more hotels.”


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