DES MOINES, Iowa — Downtown Des Moines is anticipating an unprecedented wave of hotel construction, including a 330-room Hilton that opened this week.
The city expects a surge of 951 hotel rooms in the next few years, which is a nearly 50 percent increase from the rooms currently available, the Des Moines Register reported .
Des Moines didn’t add any new downtown hotel rooms between the opening of Des Lux Hotel in 2000 and the Hyatt Place in 2010. A recent wave of construction has added five hotels in the last four years.
“We’re really behind the curve downtown. There were a lot of years where we didn’t have a lot of activity, so this is our catch-up phase,” said Ryan Moffatt, the city’s economic development manager. “Right now, the spigot is open.”
The Hilton Des Moines Downtown that opened Wednesday is a long-awaited project due to its proximity to the Iowa Events Center. Officials said it’s key to the city’s bid to attract national and regional conventions, as well as thousands of visitors annually.
Assistant City Manager Matt Anderson said the city has an aggressive policy for attracting hotels downtown by providing tax increment financing to developers. For building or remodeling hotels, owners pay property taxes on the assessed value of the building or land prior to renovations, with the length of the agreement depending on each project.
The city has awarded $18.7 million in tax increment financing to six hotel projects since 2014.
Officials said there’s a clear return on investment, but many have questioned whether downtown can support the booming hotel construction.
“I think we need to be mindful of the number of hotel rooms, and we need to be monitoring occupancy and we need to be monitoring average daily rates,” Councilman Josh Mandelbaum said.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com