WATERLOO — It appears the Cedar Valley will kick of the holiday shopping season by unwrapping a long-awaited gift — the new Courtyard by Mariott hotel on the Cedar Valley TechWorks campus on Westfield Avenue.
Opening is anticipated for late November, said Kim DeGood, who will be general manager of the facility. The hotel hosted a job fair last week to fill at least 75 to 100 positions, with more to be added later. Hirees will begin working in about two weeks.
“Second, third, fourth and fifth (floors) look like they’re just about done,” DeGood said. “First floor, they’re just starting to paint the outside. Our signs will be here in a couple of weeks.”
The opening was pushed back from Oct. 15 due construction issues on the sixth and first floors. But DeGood said, “For them to have started a little over a year ago and for them to get his project done in a year and a half is amazing. Something like this usually takes a couple of years.”
It’s a project of Quad-Cities area developer Rodney Blackwell with much of the construction by Ryan Cos.
“We’re pushing,” DeGood said. “Rodney’s here all the time. It’s nice to have an owner that knows about construction.”
Projected costs are about $43 million.
The 166-room hotel is being located in a remodeled John Deere manufacturing building. Floors in the structure have been raised above the original manufacturing floor to allow hotel patrons to take advantage of the views outside the former factory windows. One floor of the building will be used by Deere as a conference and training center.
“We are already starting to book business,” she said. “We probably have 15 groups booked already for 2018. We’ve gotten a couple of new accounts. We probably have 100 to 200 reservations through July 2018.”
That’s aside from any Deere business.
“We’ve had several weddings. We’ve has some corporate groups that have booked here. We have a couple of smaller conventions we were able to work with through” the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We have booked with local business, but we also have booked some conventions from out of town.
Planned improvements to what is now the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center are good news, DeGood said.
“I was really excited to hear they going to be renovating, because we really do need that. It will help all of the hotels in Waterloo to bring that convention center up to speed,” she said.
Leslie Hospitality is taking ownership of the city-owned convention center, buying the adjacent former Ramada hotel and spending an estimated $20 million giving both buildings a makeover.
The Courtyard by Mariott, in addition to a bistro restaurant operated by the hotel, will have an Irish pub named the Iron Horse, playing off a Deere tractor theme. The building also will have The Black Oak Grill restaurant, independently managed by Consolidated Restaurant Operations Inc. based in Dallas. The company has other Black Oak Grill establishments in Branson, Mo., and Lincoln, Neb.