Monday, April 8, 2013

Hilton Bringing New Hotel to Historic Downtown Building?

Atlanta-based Diplomat Companies plans to bring another hotel to downtown Atlanta.

Diplomat previously redeveloped the historic Carnegie Building on Carnegie Way near Ellis Street.

Soon, Diplomat plans to begin extensive renovations at 87 Walton Street, near Cone Street, in the Fairlie Poplar district, not far away from their downtown Courtyard.

The building, which dates from 1910, will be transformed into metro Atlanta's first Home2 Suites by Hilton.  The extended stay all suites hotel chain is a relatively new hotel brand with 23 properties around the country.  Two are already open in Georgia, Augusta and Columbus, but this will be the first metro area property.  The Home2 website lists there being six more in the works.

The building at 87 Walton Street has been known by a number of different names (The Walton, Walton Building etc.) but today is known to many downtown as The Madison House. The building is ten stories and had recently been offering affordable apartments.

The Home2 joins a long list of historic downtown buildings reborn as hotels today.  Aside from the Carnegie which became the Courtyard, the Ellis, a boutique hotel downtown was once The Winecoff, built in 1913 as The Winecoff Hotel, was the scene of the worst hotel fire in U.S. history in 1946, when 119 people perished. 

The Glenn Hotel on Marietta Street was built in 1923 as The Glenn, and today is a chic boutique property with Marriott International's Autograph Collection.  The Rhodes-Haverty building was built in 1929, and at that time its 21 stories made it the tallest in the city, a title it held until 1954.  Today the building is a Residence Inn by Marriott.

Though not nearly as dated, but also downtown, a former Days Inn on Spring Street is currently being renovated  to become an aloft hotel.  Aloft is a "vision of W Hotels" and is a more economical offering from Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Also, the Atlanta Marriott Downtown rebranded earlier this week as DoubleTree by Hilton Atlanta Downtown.  The hotel, which opened in 1962, is not changing hands, just changing brands according to property owner Interstate Hotels & Resorts.

Most Home2 Hotels are "new build," but historical structures are not totally unheard of for the brand.  The Home2 San Antonio, Texas was opened in a building that was built in 1919.

The Atlanta Home2 is participating in Atlants's Better Buildings Challenge and was one of only four buildings, and  the only hotel, selected to participate.    According to a source, plans call for the hotel to receive LEED Certification, integrating high efficiency ENERGY usage into the dated building.

Additionally, plans call for a total of five retail spaces, including three on the Walton Street side.  The 10 story hotel is also said to be getting a rooftop bar ( to compete with Glenn?)  overlooking Centennial Olympic Park.

Personally, I would have loved for a boutique hotel like Andaz, from Hyatt, or an Ace or The Standard Hotel to come to Atlanta but perhaps I'm hoping for too much and should be happy with hospitality development, no matter the form.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming Home2 in downtown Atlanta?  What hotel group have you experienced elsewhere and would like to see open in Atlanta?  What one service or amenity have you been charged for bu you feel should be free in all hotels? 

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