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Sources: Dick Anagnost, Peter Flotz (images)




A tale of two hotels
How more rooms will impact the Queen City

09/15/16
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



Downtown Manchester is poised to benefit from two major hotel developments for the first time in a decade. 

 
Economic benefits
There hasn’t been a new major hotel in downtown Manchester since the Hilton Garden Inn was built in 2006, but in a strange turn of events, it may get two by spring of 2018. Planning applications for a Residence Inn by Marriott to be built on the lot between Central Street and Lake Avenue next to the SNHU Arena (formerly the Verizon Wireless Arena) and for a Tru by Hilton in the Millyard area known as the “Bedford lot” were submitted to city planners on Sept. 6.
The Marriott is expected to have 145 rooms, and 106 rooms are planned for the Tru. Counting the rooms at the existing Hilton Garden (125) and the Radisson Hotel (248), that amounts to a 40-percent increase in hotel rooms downtown. The next closest hotel is the La Quinta Inn & Suites at the Amoskeag Traffic Circle (owned by the same family who owns the Hilton Garden), which has 109 rooms.
David Preece, the executive director of the Southern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission, says there’s been demand for more rooms in the Queen City.
“We have so much to offer but there’s just a very limited amount of accommodations and we need to do something about that,” Preece said.
There have been more recent hotel developments in the area of the city closer to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, but Preece said it’s not enough.
“We shouldn’t be just limited to what’s around the airport and what’s available in other communities,” Preece said. “This will only bring more life to the downtown area and more customers to the restaurants and theaters and other sporting events.”
Manchester developer Dick Anagnost said the Marriott, which he is developing, won’t come with a full-service restaurant.
“So we’re going to be pushing our guests out to all of the downtown restaurants … which are all within walking distance,” Anagnost said.
Preece said both hotels would help attract more tourists to the state, a major industry for New Hampshire’s economy, and attract more business at the SNHU Arena. Even the Radisson could benefit, developers say, because it would be able to host larger conventions in its convention space if there are more rooms available nearby for convention-goers to stay in.
The two hotels could also have a psychological effect that could benefit the city economy.
Pat Long, the chairman of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, said the high visibility of two new and attractive buildings will signal to those driving by that Manchester is a city worth investing in.
“The Granite Street bridge is a gateway coming into the city and to have people driving up to Elm Street and seeing a new building helps the outlook of Manchester,” Long said.
City residents might also benefit from these buildings, as the downtown developments will start contributing to the city’s tax rolls. Long said a city the size of Manchester should be getting about 33 percent of its tax revenue from its downtown businesses, but in 2006 a study showed that it was only getting about 18 percent. Long said that’s now closer to 24 or 25 percent, but these hotels will inch the city even closer to the right balance.
 
Market segments
Both hotels will be highly visible in the city — up to six stories tall — but they will be designed to follow very different business models. 
The Residence Inn, while it will be located a long toss from the Radisson, will not have any convention space and will cater to traveling business people. Anagnost said the Residence Inn brand is an extended-stay, upscale hotel.
“There are people who are coming to see Dyn all the time,” Anagnost said. “There’s a ton of business travel that goes on in Manchester.”
Prices for both hotels are a moving target that will be decided on later, after things like construction costs are factored in. But the feasibility study done to investigate the market for a Residence Inn in Manchester suggested a price range of $98 to $148 per night, according to Scott Schubert, who works with Anagnost.
The feasibility study for the Tru by Hilton showed a price range of $140 to $150, which is an average of what everyone is expected to pay over the course of a year, according to Tru developer Peter Flotz. But he said he expects the actual prices to be lower than the Marriott’s.
That’s because Flotz said the Tru is a brand designed to cater to millennials, people who are more price-conscious and tech-savvy. 
“The Tru user is going to be probably 20 years younger than me, maybe 30. They’re going to be more value-conscious, they’re going to be willing to accept a slightly smaller room,” said Flotz, who is 58.
The downstairs lobby will be designed with places for people to do work on their laptops in a social setting, with built-in chairs equipped with soundproofing, plenty of power outlets, free and fast Wi-Fi and even a foosball table.
“It honestly looks like the inside of a lot of the office spaces that we’ve seen in the Millyard,” Flotz said.
The Tru is a new brand that Hilton is rolling out — it doesn’t exist anywhere yet, but Hilton spokesperson Laura Schultz said in an email that there are 200 Tru hotels in the planning process, 120 with executed agreements. Of those, developers have broken ground on seven projects and six more are expected to break ground later this month.
“Other chains take a decade to build that kind of brand, so this is really exciting. It’s one of the first brand new brands in a long time,” Flotz said.
Schultz said Tru isn’t just for millennials; it’s for Gen Xers and baby boomers too, and anyone with a “zest for life.” She said there will be a number of tech-forward amenities like a “digital room key” available via a smartphone app.
Flotz also said there will be a retail floor in the hotel that may feature things like a sandwich shop, a cafe and maybe even a brew pub featuring a local beer selection.
 
Touch and go
Some of the major details of these projects coalesced in the last few days before the application deadline with the city.
In the case of the Marriott, developers in Bedford working on the former Macy’s site were in talks to locate it there. About a week before the Marriott deal was announced, developers in Bedford even told reporters with the Union Leader that the Marriott was coming there, before an agreement was signed. But Anagnost and his partners, the Botnick Acquisition Development Team, won out. The Botnick family own the lot where the Residence Inn would be built.
“They were in preliminary talks and maybe the developer thought they were further along than they were,” Anagnost said.
As for the Tru, Flotz had been planning for the hotel to be a Hyatt Place for the past several months. He said it wasn’t the announcement of a Marriott that made him change hotel chains. Rather, it was the existence of the Hilton Garden Inn down the road from the site of his development.
“It’s essentially Hyatt’s version of what a Hilton Garden would be. It’s about the same rate, typically the same kind of user and, honestly, the Hilton chain has got millions more loyalty members than the Hyatt does,” Flotz said. “So we were concerned that we were going to be going head to head against somebody who’s already a winner in the market.”
Going with Tru seemed like the solution since it would ostensibly go after a different segment in the market. 
“I’m probably a typical Hilton Garden resident. I’m 58 years old, I travel a lot for my business, I have 400,000 points in my Hilton account. I want to make sure I keep getting more. Why? I don’t know because I never use them — but I want those points,” Flotz said. 
But his 30-year-old son is the typical Tru resident. Flotz said marketing studies envision someone like a young programmer who drops his bags off in his room and feels more comfortable bringing his laptop down to the lobby to work, whereas businessmen like Flotz are more at home working in the privacy of their hotel rooms.
 
Parking
The result of one project will be a loss of public parking, but the other will be built with extra public parking spots.
When Flotz’ project was still a Hyatt, he worked out a deal with the city to obtain air rights over nearby city street and sidewalk property and build two parking decks for public parking. The city is paying $750,000 toward the project in exchange. The lot currently has about 110 public spots, according to Long, but that will increase by about 50 spots with the new decks. The hotel parking will be an additional 60 spots.
As for the lot next to the arena, that will no longer be used for event parking or public parking. The Botnick-family-owned E&R Cleaners building will be torn down to make room for the hotel and all the parking will be dedicated to the Marriott.  





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