Downtown Cleveland sees rash of hotel project proposals

CLEVELAND, OHIO Plans for a new convention center and casino in downtown Cleveland have sparked a rush of new hotel proposals for the struggling Rust Belt city.

The latest proposal is a US$55 million project that would convert the John Hartness Building and a neighboring building into an upscale branded hotel, The Plain Dealer reports. It joins several other projects in planning stages, including hotels slated to be branded by Aloft and Kimpton.

At least two other hotel projects are seeking financing, including conversions of the former Cleveland Athletic Club and the Huntington Building.

The investment group behind the John Hartness Building proposal, called JHB Hotel LLC, has signed a letter of intent with an unnamed upscale hotel brand. The development would be for a 200-plus-key hotel with indoor parking and retail space, with a 2013 target opening date to coincide with the casino and convention center debuts. California-based Western National Capital Partners is the majority investor in JHB Hotel.

Occupancy in downtown Cleveland hovers around 60%, according to STR.