In a press conference at the Owensboro Convention Center on Monday, Mayor Tom Watson and Gulfstream Commercial Services announced official plans to break ground in May on a new 120-room hotel and the first large-scale downtown apartment endeavor, Riverfront Brio Apartment Homes, expected to be at least 160 units. The project will also include a 400-space parking garage and is expected to open in late 2021.
Ed Ray, chief operating officer of Gulfstream Commercial Services, said an announcement on the hotel flagship should be made in two to three weeks.
“By adding these rooms to the hotel inventory downtown, we will finally put our convention center in position to aggressively go after significantly larger conventions and trade shows, which brings visitors, dollars and growth to our local community,” Ray said.
Jack Wells, development partner of Gulfstream’s Matt Hayden, said the hotel flag has been negotiated, but they are honoring the company’s request not to disclose the brand at this time. Wells hinted to expect national name recognition. He said while the parent brand already has a home in Owensboro, the sub-brand will be new to the community and offer a different concept than other local options.
The apartments will offer a cost range, from low-income to luxury, according to Wells, and Gulfstream will internally manage the property. The project, still in the planning phases, will range from 12 to 15 stories. Wells said if the developers can justify more apartments, they will continue to go up in height.
“The need for downtown living is not something that popped up overnight. This is something that we have needed for years,” Ray said, noting that it has been more than 30 years since the Downtown Owensboro Action Plan was published and 10 years since the Downtown Owensboro Placemaking Initiative.
The mayor and developer share the opinion that this is just the first step toward progress. They believe that additional living options like brownstones and condos could be seen in the future.
“During the State of the City, we talked about the opportunity to make downtown relevant with bringing density, and this hotel certainly does that,” Watson said. “The fact that we will get people down here will be the salvation of the downtown.”