The Omni Louisville won’t open for at least another 18 months, but the company already has booked roughly 24,000 room nights for 2018 and 2019 and compiled a 100-person waiting list for its 225 luxury apartments.
“And we don’t even have prices yet,” Andrew Casperson, vice president of operations for Omni Hotel & Residences, said referring to the apartments.
The 30-story, 612-room Omni Louisville will alter the city’s skyline and is expected to bring a new level of development to the Central Business District. “This is going to be a nerve center. It is going to be the center of our city,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said at the groundbreaking in January.
At a Real Estate Venture Exchange luncheon Wednesday, Casperson updated attendees, which included real estate investors and developers, on the Omni Louisville project and shared some statistics from cities in which Omni already operates.
The Omni Louisville is considered part of Omni’s “convention collection,” which includes similar hotels in Nashville, San Diego and Fort Worth, Texas, that are within walking distance of convention centers and offer meeting space and hotel rooms for conventioneers. The Omni Louisville will have 70,000 square feet of space split between a grand ballroom and small meeting space for businesses or conventions to rent.
Although a direct correlation can’t be proven, Casperson argued that Omni’s entrance into a city helps build demand for more hotels and improves the tourism economy. After Omni opened an 800-room hotel in Nashville, the per-night room rate rose $7 and increased hotel room night demand by 700 rooms.
During his speech, Casperson also provided several new details about the Omni Louisville, particularly its urban market.
The market will have a Whole Foods Market-type feel and will offer a variety of traditional grocery items, but not the wide range of brands one might see at a suburban grocery store. In addition to the store, the market will feature an out-of-commission food truck serving sliders, a bar with wine and 16 beers on tap, a sushi bar, barbecue, a full bakery and a Heine Brothers’ Coffee.
“You can go here for lunch. You can go here for shopping,” Casperson said, adding that everything in the market will be available for delivery to the hotel rooms or apartments, and customers will have the option of swiping a fob to pay for items using a linked account.
Along with the market, the first floor also will include a Bob’s Steak & Chop House, an all-day restaurant and a 200-person speak-easy, with four bowling lanes.
The company has stated plans to open in 2018, but Casperson narrowed that date to April 2018 — though he hopes that may move up to March 2018 to put more time in between the grand opening and the Kentucky Derby.
IL previously reported that the estimated cost of the Omni Louisville was north of $300 million. Casperson said the most recent estimate placed the price tag at $321 million. With $246.5 million in state and local incentives, Omni won’t have to take out any debt to complete the hotel and apartment project, he said, earlier noting that the majority of Omni’s projects are debt-free.
The incentives weren’t the only thing that attracted Omni to Louisville. Louisville is a city that’s growing, Casperson said, and Omni likes to get in on the front end. Even if the Kentucky International Convention Center wasn’t undergoing a $207 million renovation, he added, that Omni would have likely come to Louisville anyway.
“We still have a lot of faith with what’s going on.”