City seek study to reevaluate downtown hotel conference center plans

The city of Columbus is going to take another look at the feasibility of a downtown hotel and conference center.

The Redevelopment Commission this week approved a $27,000 contract with Hunden Strategic Partners to study the proposed project between Second and Third streets across the street from the county jail. Originally linked to a downtown grocery and apartment complex development, the hotel conference center to be developed by Sprague Developers was put on hold when the tourism and travel industries declined during the pandemic.

Now the city wants to have an update to the 2018 market and feasibility study that led to the downtown plans. Rob Hunden with the company said that they would come up with a revised assessment and would work with Sprague to determine if they are still interested in the project. Hunden said bright spots in the hospitality sector include the expansion of the leisure industry nationwide, with people being interested in taking long weekends for travel and in a rise in business travel for face-to-face discussions and sales meetings.

The redevelopment commission approved an expedited option for the study, to be completed in about four weeks.