The former Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank building at 6th Street & Marquette Avenue might be converted to a high-end Westin hotel, according to The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.
The newspaper reported that a local developer is negotiating a deal with the hotel chain's operator, White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotel & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., to open a hotel in the vacant office building.
The company, which operates more than 700 hotels in 80 countries, did not return a phone call for comment. Besides Westin hotels, Starwood operates St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton hotels.
U.S.Bank formerly operated a branch in the opulent space, which went on the market in 2002 after the branch closed.
The Downtown hotel market has been soft since 2001, even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Steve Sherf, senior vice president of hospitality for GVA Marquette Advisors, a market research firm based Downtown.
Hotel business has started to rebound with occupancy rates at area hotels starting to rise, he said. Average room rates are also expected to increase in 2005 from an average of $105 a night in 2004 at most area hotels.
The only hotel under construction in Downtown is the Chambers, an upscale boutique hotel planned for the old Fairmont Hotel and the ProColor building at South 9th Street & Hennepin Avenue. The 53-room hotel is slated to open early 2006.
The Greater Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association (GMCVA) is also studying the feasibility of building a new hotel near the Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave. S.
The GMCVA released a study in November indicating the city needs to build a new 1,200-room hotel to stay competitive in the convention business. The study estimated that the city has lost an estimated $821 million in potential convention business between 2001 and 2012 because there are too few hotel rooms within walking distance of the Convention Center.
The Whitney Hotel, 150 Portland Ave. S., on Downtown's riverfront, might also be revived as a new hotel. Ned Abdul, president of Downtown-based Swervo Development, which recently took over the building, said a new boutique hotel or condos are possibilities.