Big Events Center Proposed in Cedar Falls

Open Door Hospitality | December 11th, 2016

CEDAR FALLS — A 140 room hotel and 1,000-person events center is being proposed near the Hudson Road/U.S. Highway 20 interchange in southwest Cedar Falls.

Open Door Hospitality of Cedar Falls, which has several motel properties in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, is proposing the as-yet-unnamed project south of its Best Western hotel between that property and West Ridgeway Avenue.

“The Cedar Valley has a need for a brand new, state-of-the art events center,” said Mary Carlson, regional director of operations for Open Door Hospitality, headed by Atul Patel. They have been in the hotel and motel business locally for 30 years.

Plans and cost estimates are still being formulated. Company officials say the facility would be roughly twice the size of the Pipac Centre on the Lake. That venue, also known as the Park Place Events Centre, just to the north along Hudson Road, closed to public events earlier this year. It will house administrative offices and meeting space for Area Education Agency 267.

The Pipac Center closing created a void for meeting and events space the new facility will fill, company officials said. Pending city approvals, they anticipate it might open to the public in late 2018. Plans will be submitted to the city soon.

Company officials did not offer firm cost estimates but noted its other, smaller projects in the area typically exceeded $10 million each.

“A lot of this came about because all of our properties are mainly Cedar Valley properties,” Carlson said. “All of the properties have been doing so well, it’s a perfect opportunity for us to do a project like this. And with Pipac closing, there have been so many calls, so many requests, we see this as great timing. We’re in the final stages of planning.”

The hotel will be affiliated with a major chain, and Patel indicated his company is talking to a couple of them. The site is available on contract.

“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art project,” Carlson said. “The franchise that we choose is going to be one that would require us to have ‘the best of the best.’ We want to do that.”

Even before Pipac closed, Carlson said, there was a need for a larger facility for conventions, weddings and other events.

“With the hotel attached to the events center, I think it’s going to be exactly what it takes to bring those people. I know for myself, being on the board of the (Cedar Falls) Tourism (& Visitors) Bureau, it’s been a constant conversation about how do we bring more associations and more business to the community. And this is the perfect opportunity for us,” Carlson said.

The proposed facility’s best asset is its location, she said, adjacent to the Technology Park wing of the Cedar Falls Industrial Park and near the University of Northern Iowa and the John Deere Product Engineering Center.

“With all of the new businesses coming in, everything that’s being built in this area, the need is there. We’re right at a perfect place,” she said. “… We’re looking at being able to accommodate three or four large events at the same time.

“The (Five Sullivan Brothers) convention center has a particular market. Even Pipac had a particular market. This would encompass everything in the Cedar Valley,” and bring additional visitors and business to town, she said.

The finished project is anticipated to employ more than 100 people and an even larger number of construction workers.

“It will be a lot of jobs,” Patel said. “… It’s going to bring a lot of new people into town. It’s going to help other people, other business. It’s going to bring a lot of revenue to the Cedar Valley.”

“From my experience, growing up here, living here, going to UNI, you get a real good underlying feeling of what the Cedar Valley wants and what they need,” Patel said. And we want to do it right.”

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