Interstate 75 development feeds Cin-Day hotel building boom

An influx of retail development and other tourist draws is creating a hotel building boom between Cincinnati and Dayton, with more than 700 new hotel rooms to be added to the market within the next 12 to 18 months.

Six new hotels are in various stages of construction along the Interstate 75 corridor in West Chester and Liberty townships and Sharonville, as plans previously delayed by the recession are back on the books.

“They’re not exactly new projects, but rather projects that might have found better timing in 2014 and beyond,” Tracy Kocher, marketing director of Butler County Visitors Bureau, said.

Helping spark new hotel development is the construction of a 150,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops in West Chester Twp. near Union Centre Boulevard, as well as a 75,143-square-foot Cabela’s along Liberty Way. Both sporting goods stores expect to open next year.

Add to those ongoing lease negotiations for the second phase of The Streets of West Chester, which is projected to add 200,000 square feet of retail and dining floorspace to existing shopping options such as Barnes & Noble. That groundbreaking is expected to happen in fall 2015.

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In response, three new hotels are being built in West Chester Twp., including a 125-room Hilton Garden Inn set to open in September on Schulze Drive. A 112-room Homewood Suites by Hilton is also being built on Schulze Drive.

And construction started in July on Centre Park of West Chester on Muhlhauser Road, consisting of an approximately 130-room Holiday Inn and 650-seat event center. It has a fall 2015 opening date.

“West Chester is growing very well, but also why do we want to build this amongst the other hotels there?” said Neha Bhatnagar, director of e-commerce for Middletown Hotel Management Co., the project’s developer.

“Because you don’t have any other hotels in the area like it, that will have a chapel as part of it. You won’t have another hotel in that area with an event center that can seat up to 650 people,” Bhatnagar said. “You don’t have a facility that can accommodate 650 people with a hotel attached to it.”

Sharonville Convention Center’s Executive Director Jim Downton said his city’s plans to build and open in 2016 a 120-room hotel attached to the meeting facility complements plans for more event space in West Chester Twp. The recently remodeled convention center has 68,000-square-feet of exhibit, ballroom and meeting space that tends to attract regional events and trade shows. Centre Park’s plans amount to about 20,000-square-feet that Downton said would draw local gatherings, and won’t compete for the same clientele as Sharonville.

“It makes the package of the region stronger and more attractive to these events,” he said.

North in Liberty Twp., construction is underway on the approximately $350 million mega retail project Liberty Center. Set to also open next year, the complex, at the intersection of Ohio 129, Interstate 75 and Liberty Way will include a mix of retail, dining and entertainment options. A hotel has always been part of the site plans, and earlier this year it was announced that AC Hotel by Marriott would open in fall 2015 a 130-room hotel there with an urban, lounge feel to attract millennials.

Most recently, a 92-suite extended stay hotel was announced in July in Liberty Twp., to be built on Liberty Centre Drive. The $9 million Home2 Suites by Hilton will be the first in Ohio when it opens in 2015 and was attracted to Butler County in part because of Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus and its nearby expansion. The hospital is spending $160 million to add a fourth floor and a proton therapy and research center for cancer treatment.

Still this year, MetroParks of Butler County will open the Voice of America Multipurpose Field and Athletic Complex featuring 22 natural grass fields.

“Putting events into our athletic facilities not just in West Chester but around the community continues to fuel strong growth for us,” Kocher, of the visitors bureau, said. “Secondly, we see the area between Dayton and Cincinnati just growing over the next few years. Butler County represents a great opportunity for families and leisure travelers to come and stay here, and have great amenities, restaurants and hotels, and be able to access our great attractions.”

“Additional rooms will afford tournament organizers more options and more space,” said Kelly Barkley, spokeswoman for MetroParks of Butler County.

“MetroParks has shared plans with several hotel developers along the way to developing the athletic complex when asked to do so; however, it is more likely that the hotels are being drawn to the growth and overall desirable development on the I-75 corridor as a whole,” Barkley said. “The availability of ample hotel space, hospital access and retail amenities will certainly benefit and support the weekend tournament customers for the athletic complex.”

“Having these options close by will provide a benefit other venues may not be able to offer,” she said.

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