Lickety-split: New Iowa City Hampton Inn goes up in 131 days

Fair weather conditions aid in speedy construction

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When the first guests arrived at the new Hampton Inn in Iowa City last Thursday, they had no idea of the hotel's claim to fame.

The hotel at 4 Sturgis Corner Dr. was built in just 131 days. That's potentially a new record for Hampton Hotels and Hilton Worldwide as the most quickly constructed hotel, according to Hampton Hotels.

The 93-room Hampton Inn is owned by Ravi Lodging and is managed by Hawkeye Hotels of Burlington.

"It was just a goal I had set to be the quickest hotel built," said Ravi Patel, one of the hotel's three owners. "It took a lot of buy-in from all our contractors and vendors and our furniture folks."

Patel, an executive of Hawkeye Hotels, said he'd gotten a lot of practice in hotel development as Hawkeye Hotels developed more than a dozen new hotels in the last two years.

Having the hotel open also is a boost to the city's Riverfront Crossings District, an urban renewal project bordered by Burlington Street, Highway 6, Gilbert Street and the Iowa River. The hotel has been viewed as one of the anchors of the project.

The average construction time for similar hotel projects is 12 to 16 months, Patel said.

Last summer's dry weather was a boost to the Hampton project's timetable , but Patel said the real key was planning with the contractors and suppliers involved.

Trimming months off the construction timetable didn't result in lower construction costs, Patel said, although the final price tag wasn't too much higher because of it.

The project received its certificate of occupancy from the city on Nov. 9, but didn't open until Nov. 29 due to a variety of factors such as staff training and an inspection by the Hilton hotel chain.

Baxter Construction of Fort Madison was the construction manager for the Hampton Inn. The hotel was the second Hampton Inn in the Iowa City-Coralville market, and at least one other is under development in Iowa, according to Hampton officials.

Patel said construction time is usually tracked by one of two metrics from the date the slab is poured to the certificate of occupancy, and from the date the footings are poured to the date of occupancy. Using the slab as the beginning point yields an even shorter construction time for the Iowa City Hampton about 100 days, but Patel says, "either way, it was the quickest."

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