A Hyatt Place hotel will join a cluster of hotels planned near the Bagby Avenue entrance to Central Texas Marketplace.

Austin real estate agent Charlie Quisenberry, who is pursuing tenants for a commercial development taking shape near the marketplace, said a Hyatt-branded property will go up adjacent to an independent living community in development called Emerald Cottages.

Mississippi-based Heritage Hospitality Group announced in July it bought 5.6 acres on Marketplace Drive near the Bagby Avenue entrance with plans to build a Residence Inn by Marriott, the second in Greater Waco, and a Tru by Hilton.

The three new hotels will take shape across Marketplace Drive from an existing Hampton Inn & Suites, Quisenberry said.

“That should not become a problem because Waco, like Austin, is under-served when it comes to hotel rooms,” Quisenberry said. “I like Waco, but it has always been behind the curve on development.

“Obviously, things are picking up due to a combination of factors, including Baylor University’s new McLane Stadium on Interstate 35 and the popularity of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their Magnolia Market.”

Hyatt Place properties typically have 80 to 120 rooms, he said.

The new hotels will help ease a local shortage of rooms exacerbated by “a tourism sector that is still booming,” said Carla Pendergraft, marketing director for the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Pendergraft said figures released this week show the occupancy rate for hotels in Greater Waco reached 75.5 percent during the second quarter of 2017, April through June.

“That’s behind only Austin-Round Rock’s 76.6 percent, while Texas as a whole dropped to 64.9 percent from 66.1 percent in the second quarter of last year,” Pendergraft said in an email message.

Despite new construction, Waco continues to play catch-up when it comes to meeting demand for hotel rooms.

“We absorbed 300 new rooms last year, and though plans are in the works for others, some may not materialize until 2019,” she said. “We’re still short of rooms for leisure travelers, and we’re not in much better shape for conventions, which need large blocks of rooms.”

Pendergraft said the market lost 175 rooms when a former Holiday Inn was leveled to make room for Baylor University’s new football stadium, and a 140-room Clarion Inn fell to make room for a retail and restaurant development on Interstate 35 that includes In-N-Out Burger.

Ali Bhatti, vice president of development for Heritage Hospitality, said the Tru by Hilton will have 98 rooms spread over four stories, while the Residence Inn will have 105 rooms. Crews will break ground in January and complete work on the Tru by Hilton in January of 2019, Bhatti said.

He did not have details on construction of the Residence Inn.

Baylor Scott & White Health also plans to place a clinic near Emerald Cottages, and the shells of two commercial buildings are in place nearby. Tenants so far include Mattress One and CycleBar, a chain that allows patrons to ride stationery bikes in a surround-sound theater setting.

In nearby Central Texas Marketplace, site preparation continues for a commercial strip that a La Madeleine restaurant will anchor.

Elsewhere in Waco, site work has started for a 110-room La Quinta Del Sol near 11th Street and the Interstate 35 frontage road. Lalani Lodging is building an 111-room Hilton Garden Inn at Legends Crossing, and a full-service hotel of at least 110 rooms is part of Catalyst Urban Development’s plans to develop the city’s riverfront.

A seven-story SpringHill Suites is also slated to replace a the Executive Inn being torn down near University Parks Drive and I-35.

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