by Lance Turner
Posted 12/6/2013 02:36 pm
Updated 11 months ago
Arkansas State University said Friday that it has received two proposals to build a hotel and convention center on its Jonesboro campus.
Arkansas Business noted Wednesday that the university had asked for proposal from two construction firms, Jonesboro Hotel & Convention Center LLC of Charleston, Ill., and Wallace Bajjali Development Partners LLC of Sugar Land, Texas.
The university said it is considering a complex that would occupy an 11-acre tract between U.S. 49 and Olympic Drive, where its track and field complex was previously located. The site is surrounded by the football stadium, the Convocation Center and the Fowler Center.
On Friday, ASU said it will consider a public-private partnership to develop a 150-bed hotel and conference center that would benefit university visitors and the city, which has long sought convention space.
"We are continually looking for ways to enhance learning for our students, increase revenues for the university and serve our city and region," Chancellor Tim Hudson said in a news release. "This development could have a positive impact in each of those areas."
ASU did not yet have a cost estimate for the project.
The Wallace Bajjali firm proposes a complex with 150 beds and up to 75,000 SF of convention and meeting space. The proposal does not identify a specific hotel brand but notes existing relationships with the Hilton, Holiday Inn and Wyndham brands.
Jonesboro Hotel and Convention Center proposes a 150-plus room "luxury select service hotel" and identifies Hyatt Place as its proposed brand. It proposes a 30,000-SF convention center and a 45,000-SF exhibit hall.
Both plans include classroom space and internships for the university's proposed hospitality management degree program.
On Tuesday, Jonesboro's ABC affiliate, KAIT-TV, Channel 8, said Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin was "excited" to hear about ASU's plans. On Friday, ASU said Perrin "has indicated his support for the project and wants to see it come to fruition."
Hudon's chief of staff, Shawnie Carrier, is leading the project and said a university committee will review the proposals and interview the firms during the next two weeks, then make a recommendation to Hudson.
"We have many details to consider before proceeding with this project," Hudson said. "But the concept has merit and is worth pursuing as another transformative possibility for our university and for northeast Arkansas."