Boosting Local Hotel Business
The plan is to tear down the current Regency Hotel and build a new six stories, 120 room hotel in its place. Mike Ebert, Regency Hotel's co-owner, says it will be a state of the art, technology friendly facility. Price tag: about sixteen million dollars.
Hotel owners hope hammers and drills could means big bucks for local businesses. One neighboring business owner is hoping the change will attract more tourists to downtown.
"I think it is great to bring the tourists downtown and [bring] them away from the interstates and the mall area," Erin Keltner, a local business owner, said.
Keltner owns the Swank Boutique just down the street from the Regency Hotel. Columbia officials hope projects like the Regency will bring in more shops and shoppers.
"Columbia's best kept secret is our downtown area in our district, and I think if we can expose ourselves to more people we can continue to increase travel into the Columbia market," Ebert explained.
And Ebert says the new hotel could do this, and that's good news for Keltner.
"Yeah, I mean anything helps when you are a local business, we get a ton of business from people walking down from Regency," Keltner said.
Other hotels are looking to renovate around Columbia and money is the only thing holding back many of the projects. Construction is taking off in the area, and places like Tiger Hotel want to finish reconstruction by 2008. Owners are not the only ones excited about changes. Tourists and customers in the city are excited to have a better place to stay downtown. That makes a difference for at least one hotel customer.
"Well, looking at downtown there's not a lot of places to stay, there's the Regency, which is a little bit of an older hotel. From my understanding, it's going to be renovated. And it's going to be the chic-boutique style," Karla Killiam said.
Tiger Hotel needs about 2.5 million more dollars to complete renovation.