249-room Hilton hotel planned for Alpharetta

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle:

Franklin, TN based Chartwell Hospitality will develop the 249-room hotel on a five-acre site near the intersection of Windward and North Point Parkways.

Considering the lack of full-service hotel development in this cycle, the project reflects how Alpharetta has evolved into a major hub for tech companies, which need more upscale lodging and event space in the market.

 “Hilton and Chartwell’s enthusiasm to build an upscale full-service hotel as part of our project is further validation of the location and master plan,” said Rob Kincheloe, investment manager for Atlanta-based Worthington Hyde Partners, the master developer of Windward Park. “Alpharetta’s addition of a convention center, the growth of projects and the area’s continued affluence have attracted projects like this.”

The Hilton would feature about 6,500 square feet of meeting space, including a large ballroom. It would also have a 2,700-square-foot restaurant with ample outdoor dining space.

Atlanta-based Rabun Rasche Rector Reece Architects is designing the hotel.

Alpharetta’s design review board is set to hear the project on Jan. 19.

The nearly 50-acre Windward Park project will also include two 250,000-square-foot office buildings, 200 condos, 191 townhomes, 24 live-work townhomes and 31,000 square feet of retail.

Site work has begun on Windward Park and construction should soon start on the townhomes, which are being developed by homebuilder Lennar Corp.  The hotel is set to break ground this summer.

The project stands out among other recent hotel proposals. Few developers have been able to finance full-service hotels in recent years due to rising construction costs. Some have attached full-service hotels to built-in demand generators, such as a convention center or stadium. Some have received public subsidies for their projects.

“That is a phenomenon not unique to Atlanta,” said Mark Woodworth, senior managing director and head of lodging research for CBRE Hotels. “It’s been extraordinary difficult to prove the economic viability of full-service development.”

The last full-service hotel to open in Alpharetta was in 1999: the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta, which sits across Windward Parkway from the planned Hilton.

But that’s changing with the Jan. 16 opening of the Hotel Avalon and Alpharetta Convention Center at the Avalon development along Old Milton Parkway. That project has been a major catalyst for the market, said Kincheloe with Worthington Hyde.

Yet, the Ga. 400 North hotel market has seen robust growth in recent years, according to data from CBRE Hotels.

Occupancy levels reached 72.7 percent in 2016, up from 66.1 percent in 2012. And RevPAR (or revenue per available room) grew to $76.25 in 2016, up from $52.06 in 2012.

“The market has really come back and matured quite nicely,” Woodworth said. “Does it make sense to explore adding more hotel room inventory? The answer is ‘Absolutely, yes.’”

Chartwell Hospitality now has the five-acre hotel site under contract from Worthington Hyde, which will remain an investor in the Hilton.

Worthington Hyde acquired the Windward Park site in 2007 from Prudential Insurance Co., which once planned a sprawling corporate campus there.