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Ground broken for Tru by Hilton at Westdale

Chain believes market is 'ripe' for limited service hotel

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Construction is expected to begin fairly soon for an 82-room Tru by Hilton hotel at Westdale in Cedar Rapids.

Ground was broken Tuesday for the 42,000-square-foot property owned by Westdale Hotel Associates LC and operated by Kinseth Hospitality of North Liberty. The four-story hotel, just inside the Williams Boulevard SW entrance to the Westdale shopping area, is expected to open in the third quarter of 2017.

Susan Bachman, senior director of development northwest for Hilton, said Cedar Rapids was selected for the ninth Tru by Hilton in the nation and the first in the Midwest because it was a good fit for the new hospitality chain.

“We think this market is ripe with opportunity for a new niche-scale limited-service product,” Bachman said. “When we designed this brand, we started from scratch, and the initial code name of ‘canvas’ because we really began with a blank canvas.

“We interviewed our existing hotel owners and our customers. Part of our focus group told us that we needed to create a place where people can connect,” she said.

Tru by Hilton hotels will have an open lobby with four zones where guests can work, play, lounge and eat. The first Tru by Hilton will open in October 2017 in Atlanta, Ga.

Bachman said Tru by Hilton has signed more 120 development agreements, representing more than 11,000 rooms, and has another 200 agreements in process, with more than 18,000 rooms.

“Tru by Hilton is on track to be the largest brand within the Hilton portfolio,” she added.

Frew Development Group of Denver, Colo., is leading the $90 million redevelopment of the former Westdale Mall. Lisa Rowe, Frew Development vice president and general manager of Westdale, said the infrastructure for the 72-acre site has been completed.

“Approximately 437,000-square-feet, or about 61 percent, of our planned buildings are underway, have been completed or have been renovated,” Rowe said. “In addition to all the various construction jobs that we have supported over the last two years, we have created and saved more than 500 retail and service jobs.”

John Frew, president and CEO of Frew Development Group, said Westdale’s redevelopment is progressing on schedule. Burlington Stores has begun stocking its recently completed 40,400-square-foot anchor store at Westdale in preparation for a Sept. 30 opening, he said.

Mayor Ron Corbett said the city needed to help make the Westdale redevelopment become a reality by approving tax increment financing, as well as guaranteeing a $4.5 million bank loan for infrastructure improvements.

“When you have a developer that’s is willing to take the risk and puts together an awesome management team and group of investors, the city could not say ‘no,’” Corbett said. “The reward is starting to pay off because we’ve had several groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings.”

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