Downtown Largo will be getting a second hotel catering to business travelers

A rendering of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites that recently broke ground.

BayStar Hotel Group

A rendering of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites that recently broke ground.

LARGO — The group that built downtown Largo's first brand-name hotel three years ago is building another one right around the corner.

BayStar Hotel Group, which broke ground on the new 95-room hotel a week and a half ago, is banking on future redevelopment downtown.

"We're going to have $20-plus million of private investment at that corner, so we think that downtown core area is primed for future growth," said George Glover, chairman and chief executive officer of Tampa-based BayStar.

Glover also hopes the two hotels, Hampton Inn & Suites, and the new $10.5-million Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, will work together to boost business.

Business is good at the 92-room Hampton Inn on East Bay, Glover said. But weekends are slower.

"We hope to attract larger groups to shore up the weekend," he said.

Each hotel's meeting rooms can seat just 80 to 125 people, Glover said. Together, the hotels can draw bigger groups that can use the Largo Cultural Center as a meeting site.

"I've used this strategy probably five to six times in the past. It's kind of a cluster development," said Glover, whose company acquires, manages, operates and sells hotels in the southeastern United States.

Both hotel brands appeal to similar customers: families, seniors and commercial travelers, most of whom pay the tabs themselves, Glover said.

But Glover, who grew up in Largo working at the downtown Largo Theatre owned by his dad, sees these two hotels "as more synergistic than competitive."

The new five-story, 60,000-square-foot hotel at 210 Seminole Blvd. will probably be 100 percent nonsmoking, Glover said. And like all Baystar hotels, it will allow pets.

Tom Morrissette, president of the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce said there is a growing need for hotels that cater to businesses, especially with nearby Largo Medical Center and Morton Plant Hospital.

Both hotels are in the city's West Bay Drive redevelopment district. Largo wants to revitalize the area and has a pending plan that would allow multistory projects with homes, shops and offices.

Together, the hotels will draw more mid-size businesses to downtown Largo for small conferences, said Teresa Brydon, the city's economic development director.

"It brings a new visibility to Largo that we haven't had before," Brydon said.

>>fast facts

New Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites

Location: on Seminole Boulevard, south of Largo Central Park's Clock Tower monument

Rooms: 95

Amenities: Pool, free high-speed Internet access and free breakfast bar

Expected opening: Late spring or summer next year

Nightly rates: $99 to $149

Downtown Largo will be getting a second hotel catering to business travelers 08/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 2:45pm]

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