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O'Reilly Hospitality Management LLC is constructing a 129-room Cambria Suites hotel in Plano, Texas.
O'Reilly Hospitality Management LLC is constructing a 129-room Cambria Suites hotel in Plano, Texas.

O'Reilly Hospitality inks Choice Hotels deal

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Under a new agreement with Choice Hotels International, Springfield-based hotel developer O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC is busy building in Texas and preparing to break ground in Arizona later this summer.

Though a formal deal has yet to be inked, CEO Tim O’Reilly said the company also is pursuing a 114-unit Cambria Suites on the campus of Drury University.

The development plans are emerging just as a key cog in the development wheel has broken away. O’Reilly said Chief Development Officer Scott Tarwater left the company in early June based on differences of opinion on the direction of the firm.

Westward expansion
In the works now are two Cambria Suites hotels: a four-story, 84,000-square-foot property in Plano, Texas, a Dallas suburb, and a five-story, 121-suite hotel at Desert Ridge, Ariz., just north of Phoenix.

O’Reilly said his company has been developing a relationship with Choice Hotels since early 2012. He said Choice developed the Cambria Suites brand in 2007, and decided last year to relaunch it after the recession stymied plans for growth. “They are really focusing on the construction of new Cambria Suites in urban markets. Associated with that plan, they have purchased hotel sites all over the country, including in Plano, Texas, and Desert Ridge,” he said.

O’Reilly said his company Choice Hotels is partnering with O’Reilly to help develop the Cambria hotels with a plan to recover those costs in five years. O’Reilly declined to disclose terms of the deal.

“It is difficult to launch a new brand and break into the buying habits of the American public. One way they do that is through joint ventures and financial incentives,” O’Reilly said, noting Great Southern Bank is helping to finance O’Reilly Hospitality’s projects.

The Cambria brand would join Hilton Garden Inn, Marriott’s TownePlace Suites and Holiday Inn among the flags O’Reilly flies across six properties in three states.

The company broke ground June 12 on the 129-room Plano project. The property, which is expected to open in March 2014, is in something of a sweet spot for corporate travelers. The hotel will be located within two miles of offices and corporate headquarters of such companies as JCPenney, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Ericsson, Frito-Lay, HP Enterprise Services and Pizza Hut.

In Desert Ridge, O’Reilly said a groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled Aug. 5. He said the hotel would feature about 2,800 square feet of meeting space, built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Silver standards.

Panther place
At Drury, O’Reilly said informal discussions with school officials about a need for hotel services led to preliminary plans for a new Cambria Suites.

“There is limited food and beverage in the area and limited hotels that are close in that part of town,” he said, adding the agreement would involve a long-term land lease. “We are still working on this with Drury to make sure it is feasible and finalize the details, but it looks very positive at this point.”

Mark Miller, Drury spokesman said officials are in discussions with O’Reilly to build a hotel on campus property south of Harrison Stadium and west of the railroad tracks. He said the university would maintain ownership of the facility and O’Reilly would operate the business.

“At its October 2012 meeting, Drury’s board of trustees agreed to continue talks with the developer, but no deal has been finalized and any agreement would have to be approved by Drury’s board of trustees. Then-Drury President Todd Parnell and the chairman of the board, Lynn Chipperfield, have both signed confidentiality agreements with the developer and cannot say anything more publicly until a contract has been finalized. Current Drury President David Manuel is bound by the same confidentiality agreement,” Miller said in an email.

If the company earns approval to bring a hotel to the Drury campus, it would be its second notable facility with an O’Reilly name. The $12 million, 3,100-seat O’Reilly Family Event Center opened on campus in October 2010.

O’Reilly said he would like to begin construction at Drury in six to nine months.

The next JQH
Plano isn’t O’Reilly’s first rodeo in the Lone Star State.

He said plans in Denton, Texas, are still moving forward. In Denton, which is 40 miles northwest of Dallas, O’Reilly said negotiations with city officials are in the final stages for approving a master-development agreement. O’Reilly is taking on the development model executed by John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts by building a hotel next to the city’s convention center.

Traction in Denton followed O’Reilly Hospitality’s addition of several key associates from JQH Hotels in late 2011 and early 2012. Six JQH managers and executives, including longtime architects Steve Minton and David Horst, joined the O’Reilly team around the first of last year, months after former JQH vice president Tarwater joined the fold in June 2011. Tarwater had been working on plans in Denton for JQH Hotels in 2009 before the company walked away from developing amid a tight lending environment.

O’Reilly said he wasn’t sure where Tarwater would go from here. “Scott and I had a difference of opinion on the direction of the company, and we shook hands and parted ways as friends. Scott is a very quality hospitality professional and individual, and we will miss him and wish him well,” O’Reilly said via email. “My understanding is that he will remain active in the industry, but I don’t know the details.”

Tarwater did not respond to calls for comment by press time.

Closer to home, O’Reilly said the five-story, 110-room TownePlace Suites hotel planned across from Mercy Hospital Springfield on South National Avenue is about 40 days behind schedule due to the rainy spring weather. He said an expected early spring 2014 completion could now mean a mid-2014 opening.[[In-content Ad]]

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