A hotel building boom in downtown Columbus and Short North will create nearly 1,100 new rooms within the next several years. City officials believe adding hotels will make Columbus more competitive for large conventions and create thousands of jobs.
“We are working very hard not only to add hotel rooms but to be strategic in the development,” says Brian Ross, president and CEO of Experience Columbus.
Today, Ross says the city ranks just ninth out of 10 for downtown hotel rooms, compared to similar sized cities that it competes with to attract conventions.
“What this will do is it will put us up to seventh, so it does allow us to become more competitive,” Ross says.
Ross says three of the hotels will open this year. Those include the Canopy by Hilton, at 77 E. Nationwide Blvd, which expects to begin operations either late this month or early August. The 12-story hotel will include 168 hotel rooms.
Graduate Columbus at 750 N. High St. opens this fall and will have 171 rooms inside its hotel. Moxy Columbus Short North hotel at 800 N. High St. is set to open late this year, with 118 rooms.
“We’re bringing in more and more travelers,” Ross says. “Our culinary offerings continue to grow. We have a great vibrant arts and culture segment of the community, so with all this, it’s bringing more visitors to Columbus.”
Early 2021 will bring the opening of the AC Hotel by Marriott at 511 Park Street, which will feature 160 rooms. The next year, a new Hilton tower will sit adjacent to the Greater Columbus Convention Center on the east side of High Street, adding 468 new rooms.
Officials think Columbus' star is only just beginning to rise.
“We’re fortunate we’re going to have the American Society of Association executives in our city next month, and with that they’re going to provide many more business opportunities into the future, with new groups coming into Columbus, which will represent over $500 million in economic impact,” Ross says. “So we need the hotel infrastructure to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Ross says Columbus is already able to maintain enough visitors to fill hotel rooms.
“They don’t sit empty,” Ross says. “Most of the occupancy right now downtown is around 70-72%. So that’s a healthy occupancy, even when there are large and smaller groups in town.”
Ross says the hotel industry supports more than 78,000 jobs in Columbus, including retail, restaurants and bars. He sees more visitors attracted to the city by its growth.
“They count the cranes. They count the orange barrels,” Ross says. “They see that as vibrancy, as growth, as a thriving community, and we view it the same ways.”