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$20 million hotel project announced for downtown Bristol

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Downtown Bristol was handed a major holiday gift Thursday with the announcement of a 70-room luxury hotel project for the city’s downtown.

Officials with the city and the partners of Creative Boutique Hotels (CBH),  Cornerstone Hospitality and MB Contractors said the Virginia-based partnership plans to transform the 800 block of State Street into a destination hospitality complex centered around a 70-room luxury boutique hotel, The Sessions Hotel.

“At one time in America's history, almost every small town or city had a popular and successful hotel in their downtown,” Hal Craddock of CBH, said in a statement. “We want to bring that dynamic back to life in Bristol. “

According to the partnership’s plans, the complex will span nearly the entire 800 block of State Street and 15 Commonwealth Ave., encompassing properties that currently include the Owen Equipment building and adjacent parking lot, KSS, Jobbers Candy, and the Mill.

Other improvements will be made to the downtown streetscape, including a courtyard and an arched entry to the hotel parking lot, as well as new retail and residential buildings. The developers said they plan to retain a sense of Bristol’s history in what will be an adaptive reuse project.

“Visitors want to get a sense that the city has some history about it, and that buildings from the past are escorting the city into the future and not being eliminated in the name of progress,” said Craddock.

The developers said amenities at the hotel will include a spa, restaurant, music stage and  roof top bar.

Construction will begin on the Sessions Hotel by March, with a projected opening date of Spring 2015.

Assistant City Manager Andrew Trivette said the project is expected to provide an economic boost to the city. “CBH will be investing $20 million in capital expenditures to the property,” he said. “In keeping with the local theme of the project, much of the skilled detail work will be done at the hands of local artists and tradespeople. Sessions Hotel will ultimately employ 70 [people] and guarantees a return of $1.2 million over the next five years in sales taxes alone,” he added.

Creative Boutique Hotels is a partnership focused on the development of boutique hotels in small markets and on the repurposing of historic buildings as well as new construction. The partnership combines the talents of three companies. Cornerstone Hospitality in Williamsburg conducts market analyses and makes recommendations for property size and operations management. Hal Craddock of Craddock Cunningham Architectural Partners in Lynchburg focuses on the design and repurposing of historic structures. MB Contractors, based in Richmond, provides construction costs and craftsmanship.

In addition to the Sessions Hotel, the partnership’s other boutique hotel projects include the expansion of the existing Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg, the revitalization and expansion of The John Randolph Hotel in  South Boston, and the adaptive reuse of One Mill Place in Farmville.

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