Two new hotels are opening or in the planning process in Urbandale. That might not be startling, but a proliferation of hotels in Greater Des Moines begs the question “why.”
An 89-room Fairfield Inn will open April 10 at 8661 Plum Drive in Urbandale. The Marriott franchise will be the third hotel operating on Plum. A fourth is on the books, a Hampton Inn that will be part of a 15-acre retail development R&R Realty Group is planning for the 8900 block of Plum in the company’s Highland Pointe office and retail project.
The city’s planning and zoning commission will review a site plan for the hotel on Monday.
Jackie Johansen, marketing manager for R&R Equity Partners, said the company has a history of bringing hotels into its office and retail developments. On the other hand, she is quick to point out that Greater Des Moines is going through what some might call a hotel craze.
“Just all across the metro area and the nation, there is a lot of activity,” she said.
In West Des Moines, city planners are hearing from nine or 10 hotel developers, said Clyde Evans, director of the city’s community and economic development department.
Two hotels are planned for an area near Stagecoach Drive and Mills Civic Parkway. Word is that another could pop up farther east near 51st Street and Mills Civic Parkway, and another hotel is planned at Jordan Creek Town Center.
“The thing that a lot of folks have told me is that we are enjoying high occupancies right now,” Evans said. He is hearing from developers out of the Kansas City area and Sioux Falls, S.D.
In downtown Des Moines, a 127-room Residence Inn recently opened, a 120-room Hampton Inn and Suites is near completion, and another 220 rooms would be added under two projects proposed for the East Village. Sherman Associates Inc. could break ground this summer on a 125-room Holiday Inn Express south of Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway, and those projects are in addition to the 450-room convention center hotel that could be built near the Iowa Events Center.
A recent study commissioned by the city of Norwalk said a 75-room hotel would be a nice fit near the interchange of Iowa Highways 5 and 28, and a hotel could sprout at the Summercrest Hills development in Indianola.
Jackie Nickolaus, vice president of development for Sherman Associates, said some studies are showing that the metro area is playing catchup in the market for limited-service hotels.
Greg Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, pointed out the hotel developers are having little trouble finding financing for their projects. Just five years ago, there was little financing available for the hospitality industry.
He believes the proliferation of rooms is a matter of simple economics.
“It all goes back to supply and demand,” Edwards said.