JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University is one step closer to building a convention center and hotel on campus.
Chancellor Tim Hudson announced Friday the college is negotiating a land lease agreement with O'Reilly Hospitality Management LLC to develop an Embassy Suites hotel, conference center and a Houlihan's restaurant.
The university would receive revenue from the development and O'Reilly Hospitality would invest $35 to $45 million to finance the project, according to a news release from A-State.
The proposed property would have approximately 200 full-service rooms. Plans also call for a 40,000- to 50,000-square-foot conference center with an attached Houlihan's restaurant franchise.
The property would be located on 11 acres between Red Wolf Boulevard and Olympic Drive where the track and field complex was previously located.
Shawnie Carrier, the chancellor's chief of staff and interim director of the Delta Center for Economic Development, said a feasibility study is being conducted by HVS Consulting and Valuation Services. Carrier said the results are expected soon.
"We all see long-term strength in the local hotel market and a location that will be convenient for overnight visitors attending events of campus," Carrier said. "The conference center will drive business not only to our hotel and restaurant, but also to many other lodging and dining facilities."
Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said he has advocated a conference center and full-service hotel for 7 years and is "thrilled" with the announcement.
"Increasing the number of conventions and visitors to the city will help retailers, restaurants and other hotels," Perrin said. "The impact on our city will be enormous."
A-State and O'Reilly are negotiating the ground lease agreement for the project with a planned construction start during the second half of the year.