By Lucy Berry
March 4, 2016
A fast-growing hotel brand with Spanish roots will be the first tenant to break ground this year at CityCentre at Big Spring in downtown Huntsville.
AC Hotels by Marriott will anchor the $100 million mixed-use project across from Big Spring International Park and the Von Braun Center. The 150-room facility will begin taking shape in May/June and be run by Yedla Management Company, which owns and operates Starwood, Marriott and Hilton franchises.
Huntsville-based RCP Companies is the master developer of the former Holiday Inn property razed in early 2015 to make way for the multi-phase complex. Odie Fakhouri, RCP’s new director of acquisitions and asset management, said CityCentre will showcase “cutting edge, high-tech living” in a comfortable, low-tech atmosphere with retail, food and outdoor amenities.
“It’s utilitarian and beautiful, and it coincides with our commitment to create new experiences in Huntsville,” he said. “Our partnership with Yedla and AC Hotels Marriott reinforces this commitment.”
The name of the hotel was revealed Thursday during a Huntsville City Council work session. Leaders say it will be the 10th U.S. location for AC Hotels, a global joint venture with Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalán.
RCP spokeswoman Lindsay Harper said AC Hotels develops custom facilities that are European-inspired and modern at a smart value, meaning guests won’t pay for things they don’t need. The design-led hotel offers “Select Service,” which includes a staffed lounge with waiters but no room service.
The AC Hotels website said guests can also look forward to modern rooms, an AC Lounge area, kitchen with self-serve European fare, Wi-Fi everywhere, mobile check-in and check-out, and a 24-hour fitness center. Floor plans and square footage for the Huntsville location are still subject to final design, Fakhouri said.
Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said AC Hotels by Marriott will add to the momentum CityCentre has created since first announcing its plan for downtown Huntsville in 2014.
“AC Hotels by Marriott will be a part of the innovative and much anticipated CityCentre development project and will be very attractive to all travelers and convention attendees,” she said. “These additional rooms in close proximity to the Von Braun Center will help Huntsville attract larger conventions for an even broader economic impact.”
CityCentre as a whole will feature approximately 50,000 square feet of retail, upscale homes, structured/street-level parking, and regional and local cuisine. It will also have pedestrian crossings, bike pathways, walkways and a linear park that connects visitors to Big Spring Park, the VBC, Twickenham Square, medical district and other nearby properties.
A Central Food Hall + Market will operate in the heart of CityCentre with a collection of concepts, including:
- Best of local and regional chefs and artisans
- Communal tables and counters
- Specialty cuisines with homegrown appeal
- Local art and music
- Stalls to sell goods
- Outdoor component
Pennsylvania-based planning firm Urban Design Associates is partnering with RCP on CityCentre. RCP, which is also working on a plan to revitalize Madison Square Mall, currently has more than $500 million in projects under construction or in pre-development in Alabama and Georgia.
Fakhouri said the city is not providing any incentives toward construction of the hotel but is supporting the project. He said the Central Food Hall + Market will be the main avenue of activity at the site, which will feature a second hotel to be named at a later time.
Srinath Yedla, CEO of Yedla Management Company, said the custom-designed AC Hotels by Marriott in Huntsville “will embody the unique look and vibe of the city.”
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