Uptowner Inn set for new life

PARKERSBURG – The Uptowner Inn in Parkersburg will be undergoing a transformation in the coming months to become the newest TownePlace Suites by Marriott.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell and Steve Keiser, vice president and chief operating officer of Christy and Associates, made the announcement Thursday that the long vacant hotel space would have a new occupant.

“Today is a nice day for downtown Parkersburg,” Newell said. “There are a lot of empty buildings getting filled up and that is what we like. There has not been one that has been talked about more than the Uptowner Inn.”

The Uptowner Inn was constructed in 1963 and closed in 1987. The building was recently purchased by Uptowner Lodging LLC, made up of Christy and Associates and Parkersburg developer Larry Morehead. The property has been slated for redevelopment with the goal of getting a long-term stay hotel to locate there.

“We are pleased to announce we have signed an agreement with Marriott Corporation and the Uptowner will become a TownePlace Suites by Marriott.”

The project will include $7.5 million in extensive renovations to the existing building, set to begin in July with a target completion date of March 31, 2015.

TownePlace Suites is the extended stay option the company offers, officials said. There are more than 200 across the country. They are geared for people who have to stay in an area for a week and up to a month, often relating to work.

The five-story hotel will have 57,530 square feet encompassing 84 suites with studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom floor plans featuring functional space for both working and living.

The suites will include a fully equipped full-size kitchen and intuitive work space with file drawers, storage space and a pull-out table.

Onsite amenities will include an indoor pool, fitness center, business center, laundry facilities, complimentary daily breakfast, complimentary wireless Internet access and self parking.

“Marriott is one of the best brands in the hotel world,” Keiser said. “This brand (TownePlace Suites) is recognized as the number-one extended-stay, mid-price hotel (by Business Traveler News for three consecutive years, 2011-2013).”

Marriott officials had no presence in the Parkersburg area and they were looking at locating here, Keiser said.

“There is a lot of development coming here,” he said of businesses wanting to locate here as a result of the possible ethane cracker facility coming here. “Even if we didn’t have the cracker coming, there is still a lot of business here that needs taken care of.

“With the hospital, government, Blue Cross … there are a lot of good customers right here. Once U.S. 50 was completed, the downtown area became a viable hotel market. Marriott recognized that.”

LLC Architects Inc. of Memphis will be doing the design work. A contractor to do the work has not been hired yet.

The steel and concrete are in place and little site work will have to be done.

“It is already under roof,” Keiser said. “There is nothing left to do but build the rooms in the interior and decorate. We are hoping it will be a pretty fast project. I am pretty confident we can make it happen (by March 31).”

People can follow the progress of the work on a Facebook page, the Uptowner Project, where they will post pictures as the work progresses.

The biggest challenge will be bringing the interior up to Americans With Disabilities standards, Keiser said.

“It has been closed for a long time,” Keiser said. “We are going to have to go in and make sure the basic utilities, the sewer, the electric and gas are all there.

“It is a downtown location and it will be a little harder to get construction vehicles in and out of there.”

The developers also bought a parking lot across from the Uptowner Inn that will help facilitate parking for the new hotel.

Keiser said they received a lot of help from the mayor, city council and other city officials to make this deal happen.

“We are happy to see the cleanup of the city and we are happy to contribute to that,” he said. “The city has been great to work with.

“We are not fighting with anyone down here to get this done. I think the city will be very helpful in going forward.”

The project will result in approximately 25 full- and part-time positions when it is fully operational as well as substantial tax revenue for Parkersburg and Wood County, officials said.

Newell said the city has been working to fill empty buildings with viable businesses.

“The Uptowner has been empty the longest,” he said. “The groups that put this together have worked very hard to get a very nice upscale entity in there.

“Anytime we get a new business downtown it is great, but this is really special, because it is a hotel and it will bring people down here to stay and that is huge for the downtown area as opposed to people just passing through downtown,” Newell said.