Regions Hampton Roads

The Main will look to local and convention business for success

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Print this page By Paula C. Squires
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Norfolk’s newest luxury hotel and conference center, The Main, is counting on local business, the business traveler and conventions to make the $150 million project a success, the managing director of the project said Thursday.

In an address to about 170 members of the Hampton Roads Association of Commercial Real Estate, Kurt J. Krause said developers are “absolutely counting on the local market,” especially to patronize the three new restaurants in the conference center and Hilton Hotel project that will be built at the corner of Main and Granby Streets downtown. “We’re not trying to steal business from local restaurants. We’re trying to bring in more business,” Krause said.

Site work already is underway, and construction begins next month on the 22-story, 301-room project scheduled to open during the first quarter of 2017.  Krause said The Main has booked three conventions and expects to become a high-demand venue for weddings and meetings for state and federal associations.

One thing is clear: The Main, billed by developers as an iconic, transformational project with high-end finishes and amenities, will up the price for travelers to Norfolk. According to Krause, room rates will carry a $30 to $40 higher premium than what the market is seeing now. Asked later about the going rate for business travelers to Norfolk, he said it is about $120 a night.

The city of Norfolk, and Gold Key |PHR Hotels and Resorts, based in Virginia Beach, are partners in the public/private initiative. Bruce Thompson, who heads PHR, has developed other major projects in the region, including a Virginia Beach Hilton on the Oceanfront. He also is currently redeveloping The Cavalier, a historic hotel on Atlantic Avenue at the beach.

As he took the audience through a video slide show, Krause, the former general manager of the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, said the property’s design would be a draw. Thompson and the design team visited properties in Miami, Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York for inspiration in search of a design “that will represent the renaissance of downtown Norfolk,” said Krause.

The glass exterior of the 484,711-square-foot building will include an atrium inspired by the Time-Warner building in New York. Meanwhile when guests enter on the first level, it will have the feel of Grand Central Station, Krause said, with a seafood restaurant and an escalator leading to a second-floor lobby where visitors will find another atrium and the front desk.

Besides the seafood restaurant, the hotel plans an Italian restaurant, a wine bar, and 4,000-square-foot rooftop garden with sliding garage doors that will open to outdoor terraces. There also will be a large ballroom and Exchange at the Main, a high-tech conference room with views of the Elizabeth River.  Krause said hotel rooms would offer views of downtown Norfolk and the river.  Parking will be available in a 362-space garage.

Overall, the hotel/conference center expects to employ a staff of 300 to 350 workers, Krause said.

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