In May, the Houston suburb of Baytown got a new Hyatt Regency hotel as part of a bid to boost the area’s appeal for business and leisure travel.
The Hyatt Regency Baytown-Houston began to take shape about six years ago when Ron Bottoms, a deputy city manager for Baytown, Texas, reached out to Dallas-based developer Garfield Public/Private to discuss a hotel development opportunity. After a half-hour conversation, Stephen Galbreath, Garfield Public/Private’s chief development officer and head of design and construction, and Chairman Raymond Garfield, Jr. went to the site to determine what they could do.
“It's not your typical kind of resort island,” Galbreath recalled of the location. “It's a very industrial spot.” A number of oil refineries are in the area, and ExxonMobil’s 124-year-old refining and petrochemical complex covers approximately 3,400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel. “It's a very, very successful downstream petroleum market,” Galbreath said, but noted that while the area had some older midscale hotels, it did not have a new property where executives would want to stay. “We looked at this and said, ‘This could be a great opportunity to be the first full-service hotel within 20 miles in any direction.’” Baytown’s leadership, meanwhile, saw an opportunity for the city to get its own convention center and attract a wider range of business travelers.
The initial plan was for a “simple, full-service hotel” in the Hyatt family with “no frills,” Galbreath said, but the Hyatt team suggested pushing the project up the chain scale and securing the upper-upscale Regency flag instead. The company also opted to manage the hotel internally, which Galbreath said was “great” for the development team. “We really liked that as a brand and managed property.” Garfield selected Dallas-based architecture firm BOKA Powell and design-builder DPR Construction to pull the property together.
The hotel’s location and business-focused spaces give it a distinctive appeal in the area, General Manager Alex Dantes said. “There [are] not too many waterfront properties that come with a convention center,” he noted. “We're already finding that businesses are excited.” The 12,000-square-foot ballroom can accommodate up to 900 people for events, Dantes added. “People can have three- [and] four-day events and … then explore the greater Houston area to get people off the island.” Since opening, the hotel also is attracting locals who want to eat at the onsite restaurant, drink in the open-concept lobby bar, or relax outside and watch ships go up and down the Houston Ship Channel, Dantes added. “It's all about dressing it up a little bit.”
“When we look to do one of these types of projects, the goal is to bring in high-impact business for the community,” Galbreath said. A similar project in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas, boosted the typical visitor spend in the city from $30 per day to $300. According to the company’s website, Garfield Public/Private expects net cash flow from the project to the city to reach more than $44 million over the next 28 years.
Baytown, Galbreath said, may be a smaller town compared to Houston, “but it's really a spectacular property.”
Hyatt Regency Baytown-Houston
The Hyatt Regency Baytown-Houston is right outside of Houston’s city limits, close to NASA’s Space Center Houston, the Kemah Boardwalk and adjacent to the Fred Hartman suspension bridge. The property also is close to the Port of Houston Authority, 27 miles from William P. Hobby Airport and 37 miles from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
NUMBER OF ROOMS
Baytown Municipal Development District
Hyatt Hotels Corp.
Houston, Galbreath said, is susceptible to hurricanes and strong storms, and the low spot on the site was about 10 feet above sea level while the high spot was about 14 feet above sea level. To keep the hotel and its guests safer in inclement weather, the development team added approximately 50,000 cubic yards of soil to the site to bring it up to 20 feet—“a safe level where we were comfortable and our insurance carriers were comfortable,” he said.