By Jon Musgrave
MARION—A new $10 million TowneSpace Suites by Marriott on Halfway Road in Marion is expected to begin construction later this month, according to the developer Neal Patel of Carbondale.
Sitework began on the last day of August, and final construction plans will be submitted to the city in the next week or so.
The new 77-unit hotel will be located just south of the old demolished Limited Inn on Halfway Road at the intersection of Walton Way. Each suite will be a studio apartment featuring full-size kitchens and in-room workstations.
Walton Way and its extension, Joseph Cannon Way, has seen a number of new projects over the last few years, including a new Olive Gardens, which is expected to open later this year. A new retail shopping center is planned for the property west of Sam’s Club as part of the new STAR Bonds initiative, which will also include the old Illinois Centre Mall.
“I would love to see Southern Illinois grow and grow. We’ve got our footing here, and we’re planning to stay,” Patel added.
Once construction on the hotel begins, Patel estimates it will take 15 months, with an opening set for late October or November 2024.
Though occupancy rates at area motels suffered during the government-imposed COVID-19 shutdowns, they recovered to around 50 percent last year and have shot up to 69 to 70 percent so far this year in Marion, according to Patel and city officials.
The TownePlace Suites may not be the only new lodging coming to Marion. The feasibility study for the STAR Bonds district includes two more hotel projects that are expected to open in 2025.
The new hotel sits on a 1.54-acre tract. The old hotel site to the north contains 1.32 acres. “We do have plans,” for that tract, Patel said, just nothing ready to announce.
Patel also operates the Comfort Inn in Carbondale and in Marion, the Super 8 motel, and the Marion Center on the site of the old America’s Best Inn motel anchored by Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers.
The new hotel replaces the 81-unit Limited Inn torn down four years ago in October 2019. It originally opened as a Regal 8 Inn in February 1974, Marion’s second hotel west of Interstate 57. The original owners were Don Geary of Centralia, James R. Bracy, and W. T. Bracy of Herrin. For most of its 45-year history, it operated under the Motel 6 franchise.