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Downtown hotel will be Hilton Garden

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

Paducah's new riverfront hotel will be a Hilton Garden Inn.

Senate Hospitality, one of the project's partners, has announced the franchise agreement between Hilton Worldwide and the Paducah Convention Hotel, LLC, for a seven-story, 121-room hotel to be located adjacent to the Julian Carroll Convention Center.

Approximately 70 hospitality jobs are expected to be created, and developers expect to spur $115 million in local economic activity within 10 years of opening. Because it will be easily accessible from Interstate 24, the hotel will accommodate visitors to the convention center from nearby states. 

"We've got a perfect opportunity to draw business to Paducah from surrounding states," said Senate Hospitality CFO David Malone. "We have partnered with David Puckett, Todd Clark and John Clark, all Kentucky natives, and will ensure the hotel complements and serves the needs of the convention center and downtown."

Hilton was the best fit for the property as it has a strong brand and loyal clientele, said Steve Doolittle, Paducah Riverfront Development Authority director.

"The city did not specify a brand, but did specify an 'upscale' hotel," Doolittle said. "The achievement of a Hilton Garden Inn was no small deal.

Reservations are driven by brand. People who carry the Hilton Honors Card are extremely loyal."

Both Hilton's superior reservation system and reputation give the city reason to be optimistic about the hotel's economic impact  in the Paducah market, Doolittle continued.

"There is only one other Hilton product in Paducah - the Hampton Inn - and it does very well," he said.

Senate Hospitality is awaiting final approval of state tourism tax credits and expects to hear from the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet regarding those incentives within the next month.

The project was granted preliminary approval at the cabinet meeting on April 9. The cabinet allows incentives of up to 25 percent of a project's capital cost over 10 years.

The city of Paducah agreed to front developers the total estimated amount of incentives, $3.5 million, which will be paid back over the next 12 years.

"This (naming) was a key milestone in the process. (Tax credits) are the other critical piece that we have to achieve. But based on what we see, we look to break ground later this summer," Malone said.

Another important element of the project, he stated, was to have the hotel in place for the spring 2016 Quilt Show. The Hilton Garden Inn is planned for completion in the second half of 2015.

The hotel will be built on the site of the Paducah Dome Pavilion, 600 N. Sixth St. A&K Construction will oversee the $19.2 million project, which is financed by Independence Bank.

Senate Hospitality will operate the hotel and manage the convention center, which will be connected by a pedestrian bridge.

It was previously reported that the hotel would be six stories, but Malone said a seventh story was added during the latest design change.

Designs include a restaurant that seats at least 50 and a bar, but the details, theme and specifications are not complete.

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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