The upper two floors of the 30-year-old Hammons Tower were once home to a members-only restaurant and event space – featuring crystal chandeliers, brass covered decor and Springfield’s highest view through wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows. It was The Tower Club.
Building owners closed the club in early June, and this month they’ve acknowledged a revised name and event rental space soon to be available to the general public. In the new plans, gone are the membership requirements and restaurant dining popular for business lunches and special evenings.
Now called JQH Tower Club, the 21st and 22nd floors are being remodeled in conjunction with a multimillion-dollar facelift of the building’s main-floor lobby and elevators, said Kelsi Hall, president of John Q. Hammons Industries Inc. subsidiary Plaza Realty & Management Services LLC.
“We are happily refreshing several parts of our building,” Hall said.
In the lobby, the brass accents have been replaced with brushed stainless steel, the light-colored wood was stained dark brown, and the plastic plants are being switched with live ones from Dream Grower Inc. Springfield Business Journal was not permitted to access the top two floors for a view of the changes.
Hall said three of the four elevators have been refurbished, including the mechanical and security features, by Otis Elevator Co. to the tune of $1.3 million. With project oversight by Plaza Realty & Management Services, the lobby lighting also was updated with more energy-efficient options, and the engraved tenant directory will be replaced with a digital directory.
A March announcement of the club’s closure spread mostly by word of moth, as Tower Club members weren’t initially sent formal notification. The news of its relaunch is circulating in a similar fashion.
SBJ’s interview requests to Plaza Realty & Management Services over the past two months have been deferred to Sheri Smith, president of WiseHive Public Relations LLC in Dallas, who limited comments to email.
Smith said in a statement the JQH Tower Club would begin taking reservations in September for event dates in November.
The restaurant will no longer operate and no kitchen staff will be employed, she said, but the kitchen will be available for outside catering companies. The 21st floor will accommodate up to 250, and the 22nd floor will handle 125.
Jill Webb, owner of Artistry in Bloom floral service, has worked many wedding receptions and corporate events atop Hammons Tower, but she was unaware the restaurant would cease to operate.
“It’s a great view, and at night it’s beautiful up there for weddings,” Webb said.
She said scheduling was a challenge in the past, due to the membership requirements and the amount of space occupied by the shuttered restaurant. Webb suspects opening the space to the general public would make it attractive to her bridal clients.
“And the fact that people can bring in their own catering and their own choice of food is a huge plus,” she said.
The Tower Club is joining a crowded field of Springfield event halls offering sit-down dining with capacity of 100 to 350. There are at least a dozen others scattered around the city, according to Springfield Business Journal list research.
On the larger end, The John A. and Genny Morris Conservation Center, Plaster Student Union and Shrine Mosque serve 600 to 850 guests, while Oasis Hotel & Convention Center can hold up to 1,400. University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center, also a JQH property, is tops in town at 1,600 capacity.
Webb said competition for wedding reception and other event venues is increasing, from the urban appeal at The Veridian downtown and the Savoy Ballroom on Commercial Street to the trending use of rental barns in area rural communities. Then there are the destination venues in Branson and area country clubs.
“I personally like the Diamond Room, at the Knights of Columbus [Hall]. We do a ton of weddings there,” she said of the venue with a capacity of 380.
“They’ve remodeled, they’ve painted; they have new hardwood floors. … And they have their own parking.”
Hammons Tower also has its own parking lot, Webb said, so it may have an edge over other downtown venues.
But it might be too late to lure some events back to the tower.
Crista Hogan, executive director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, said her organization held monthly lunch meetings for 70 guests at The Tower Club for 15 years, before suddenly being tasked with finding a new venue with the right location, technology and acoustics.
“We’re very happy where we are now. We’ve been using Hickory Hills Country Club, and they’ve been doing a great job for us,” she said.
John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts also owns other area event venues Highland Springs Country Club, Courtyard by Marriott-Springfield Airport, Residence Inn by Marriott, and a 2,000 capacity dining space at Chateau on the Lake Resort Spa & Convention Center in Branson.
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