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October opening eyed for hotel on Boulevard

By Rachel Molenda, Staff writer
RACHEL MOLENDA | Gazette
A crew installs paving stones in the courtyard of Charleston’s newest hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, on Kanawha Boulevard, expected to be completed in the fall.
RACHEL MOLENDA | Gazette The hotel, which sits at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers, should be open in October, said developer Charlie Wendell, of Virginia Inn Management Inc.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Rough winter weather delayed completion of Charleston’s newest hotel, but the Courtyard by Marriott should be ready to open in October, said developer Charlie Wendell.

“We just were pouring concrete in the wintertime, and unfortunately we had multiple, multiple snow events,” Wendell said, remarking that January and February were “incredibly cold.”

Wendell, CEO of Virginia Inn Management Inc., said requiring crews to work during those cold spells would have been dangerous.

The Gazette reported last winter that the hotel would be completed by August.

The hotel’s exterior is mostly complete, Wendell said. A crew was installing paving stones Wednesday in the still-bare courtyard, but he said that should be completed soon. The courtyard overlooks the Elk River, which Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO and President Alisa Bailey said is a huge selling point for visitors.

The CVB is already “selling it as space available” but hasn’t set up room blocks for any groups yet, Bailey said.

“I think that the location of this particular property is going to be extremely advantageous not only for leisure travelers, but also business travelers,” Bailey said.

When she says “business,” she’s referring to conventions that are attracted to hotels like the Courtyard by Marriott. The CVB’s biggest business comes from the military, faith-based organizations and competitive sports, Bailey said.

Wendell said work is completed in phases. While much of the exterior is complete, carpeting and furniture is being place on the hotel’s second floor. Crews will work toward the fifth and last floor, then put final touches on the hotel lobby.

Wendell co-owns the property with the Dickinson family; Nelle Chilton, of Dickinson Properties; and Lewis Payne, with Kanawha Land Co. The group formed a business partnership to build the hotel.

The hotel is a $15 million project that will bring 119 additional hotel rooms to downtown Charleston. It sits adjacent to the Charleston Civic Center, which will be remodeled eventually. The hotel’s property taxes as well as a half-cent sales tax will help fund the Civic Center upgrades.

Charleston can use the Courtyard by Marriott’s taxes for the project, because it is in a tax-increment financing, or TIF, district. TIF allows communities, under certain circumstances, to take the anticipated property taxes from new projects — and from other properties near those projects — and use them to finance the projects in the first place. If the property tax increase doesn’t happen, taxpayers can end up footing the bill for the financing.

Bailey said the new hotel plus pending upgrades at the Civic Center would bring more people to the city.

“We’re going to be able to fill those rooms, we hope, with meetings, conventions and events,” Bailey said.

Reach Rachel Molenda at rachel.molenda@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5102 or follow @rachelmolenda on Twitter.


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