East Coast, West Coast: The Heartland is bubbling, too

We've all heard of the East Coast and West Coast biases, leaving the Midwest, frequently, as an afterthought. It's the Rodney Dangerfield of America: it gets no respect.

But hotel buyers and developers are paying attention to the Heartland now.

Yesterday, we covered the rather curious move of the UAE's Al Habtoor Group reportedly acquiring the the President Abraham Lincoln hotel, in Springfield, Ill.: a non-luxury hotel in a secondary U.S. market.

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Strange, perhaps, but it shows that the Midwest transactions market is alive and well. 

And, today, there is more news—this time in Milwaukee, where a developer group has bought a six-story office building next to the Wisconsin Center from Towne Realty with plans to convert it into a hotel. The building, at 744 N. Fourth St., sold for $4.5 million, according to state records, and as reported by the Milwaukee Business Journal.

The group, Jackson Street Management, also was behind the building of the Milwaukee Marriott Downtown. The group is also reportedly planning a 200-room Westin Hotel at the U.S. Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee.

There's also word that Hawkeye Hotels is on the verge of acquiring the Hotel Fort Des Moines in the Iowa city. Raj Patel, a co-owner of Hawkeye Hotels, told The Des Moines Register that the company has a contract to hotel and expects to close the deal later this month. A subsequent renovation of the 11-story hotel would begin in mid-2015, and a new name or brand is expected.

Meanwhile, on the development front, brands are more and more attracted to the Midwest and, in particular, areas outside the top MSAs.

Value Place, the economy, extended-stay hotel brand, for one. It has entered into an agreement with Minnesota-based United Development Solutions for the development of three Value Place hotels in the greater Minneapolis market. The first three Value Place properties will be developed in Fridley, Burnsville, and Mendota Heights.

“United Development Solutions is a great franchise partner for Value Place as we continue to expand our national footprint in the North Central region of the United States,” said Ron Burgett, EVP of franchise development at Value Place.

“Value Place has a proven track record of opening hotels, as well as the experience and expertise to help us meet our aggressive development goals for metro Minneapolis,” said Troy Hoekstra, partner of United Development Solutions.

Marriott is seeing potential for its AC Hotels brand in the Midwest. Properties in Kansas City and Chicago are already in the works, and now, as Hotel Chatter reports, two more ACs are coming to the Midwest, in Minneapolis and Des Moines, Iowa.

The Des Moines property will reportedly have 108 rooms and should open as early as this spring. In Minneapolis, a nine-story, 244-room AC Hotel will go up near the light-rail line, Target Field and the Target Center. The developer is M.A. Mortenson Co., and the hotel should open by 2016.