The Holiday Inn in Schenectady could soon be the site of the Capital Region’s first DoubleTree by Hilton.
The owners of the more than 50-year-old hotel on Nott Terrace are proposing a partial demolition and renovations that would reduce the number of rooms at the hotel but upgrade the quality of service and amenities.
“We really like the Schenectady market,” said Greg Schahet, president and CFO of Schahet Hotels Inc., an Indianapolis company that owns both hotel brands. “We think it’s a great market and that now is a good time for us to do some renovations. But we wanted to do something that would last for a long time. The goal is to have a brand new hotel there, and we thought DoubleTree was just the best fit and upgrade for this market.”
Schahet made it clear that a franchise agreement has yet to be finalized with DoubleTree by Hilton, which has 13 locations in New York but none in the greater Capital Region. The hotel brand is apparently well known for its signature warm chocolate chip cookies at check-in, which Schahet said is a customer favorite.
He will go before the Schenectady Planning Commission on Wednesday to present the plans for the upgraded hotel. Renovations include demolition of a portion of the existing hotel, remodeling existing hotel rooms and building an entirely new common space in the demolished areas. The upgraded building would include a new lobby, bar, dining and seating area, kitchen, meeting rooms, entrance, atrium, offices, conference rooms and a gym.
Currently, the Holiday Inn has 183 rooms. If plans are approved and it becomes a DoubleTree by Hilton, it would be reduced to 124 rooms, Schahet said.
“The way the footprint is now, we have some constraints,” he said. “We looked at all the different angles and decided that the best thing going forward would be to do this demolition and rebuild all the public spaces and rooms so that there are 124.”
The Holiday Inn saw its occupancy rates drop during the recession, he said. It’s unclear whether they rebounded to healthy levels.
The Holiday Inn was built in the 1960s on about 2.68 acres of land fronting Nott Terrace and Franklin Street. About 60 full- and part-time employees work at the hotel today. Staff would fall to about 50 employees under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand, according to a site plan review submitted to the Schenectady Planning Commission on Aug. 30.
“We’ve been here for 50 years and we hope to be here for another 50,” Schahet said. “DoubleTree has been around for a long time and is a full-service brand. We knew we wanted to change things up a little bit. It’s probably a bit of an upgrade, and we think the city can support something a little more upscale.”
DoubleTree hotels feature stylish guest rooms, citron bath products by Crabtree & Evelyn and fitness rooms.
Schahet Hotels also owns the Hampton Inn located on the Proctors block downtown. Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said that hotel has performed exceedingly well so far.
“The Schahets are a very well-respected name and have a good reputation,” said Gillen.
Schahet declined to disclose any figures for the proposed renovations since plans have not yet been finalized, but Gillen confirmed it would be upwards of $7 million.
“This is a major new investment in Schenectady County by Schahet Hotels,” he said. “Metroplex partnered with Schahet Hotels to build the new Hampton Inn downtown, which is doing extremely well. This new project means a new hotel brand and more business and more jobs for our community.”
Two other hotels are being planned for Schenectady. Local business owners Pat and Karen Popolizio are planning a $10 million to $14 million five-story hotel on their riverfront property off of Freemans Bridge Road in Glenville. In addition, Albany’s BBL Construction Services confirmed last year that it had plans to build a Residence Inn by Marriott on the former riverfront site of the American Locomotive Company off of Erie Boulevard.