Unforgettable hospitality is not just a southern thing.
Find out why Dan Boecher, Cressy’s Community Development Director is
excited about the direction the hospitality industry is taking in the Michiana area.
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I started as a commercial lender and my largest loan portfolio was with a gentleman who owned several hotels which led to me becoming the Vice President of Asset Management and Development for his company. I was responsible for the financing as well as leading the development and construction of new hotels. This directed me to my current position as Community Development Director at Cressy Commercial Real Estate.
How would you sum up the hotel industry in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties in 2018?
2018 will likely be the high-water mark of hotels opening as well as announcements of new construction. St. Joseph County saw the Courtyard by Marriott in Downtown South Bend open in April, the Holiday Inn Express opened on the south side of town late last summer and the Embassy Suites at Eddy Street Commons opened in the fall. JSK Hospitality recently started work on a Springhill Suites in Roseland and another hotel is likely to come to the Main Street corridor in Mishawaka in 2020.
We didn’t see any new hotel openings in Elkhart County in 2018 however in early 2019 there will be two new openings to take place. The Four Points by Sheraton right at the 80/90 Toll Road exit as well as a new Holiday Inn Express. There is a lot of activity near the toll road exits as three other groundbreakings have taken place and plan to open either late this year or in 2020. Not to mention our Hotel Elkhart project that got underway this past fall with plans to open early next year.
What is bringing on this surge of new hotels in the area?
The Elkhart County market is one that has outperformed the St. Joseph County market in regard to occupancy and average daily rate. There is a market here that is driven by the countless exits off the toll road, solid corporate business climate and a steady tourism economy. The convention and visitors’ bureau in both counties are very strong and they do a great job of showcasing what our region has to offer. They have been successful in getting travelers to exit the toll road and check out our communities.
Do you feel our geographic location impacts this as well?
Definitely. The 31 Bypass and US 20 running north and south, along with the 80/90 Toll Road running east and west is a great insulating factor because even during a recession, these main corridors are right in our backyard. Consequently, between New York and Chicago or St. Louis, a lot of people travel through our region. It’s not just Notre Dame football that drive visitors here. It certainly impacts the financial performance of the hotels, as the summer months in the hospitality industry perform better than the fall.
Why the Hotel Elkhart project?
One reason for this project is the new Elkhart Health Fitness and Aquatic Center that will be opening in late spring of this year and will introduce an entirely new market for us. The events they plan to hold at the aquatic center are now being held elsewhere so those will be visitors new to the market and especially new to the downtown area. The Hotel Elkhart project is the first new downtown hotel in 40 years and between the corporate business and the aquatic center, we are very confident that it will do well.
There is a lot of new rooms and good quality product to be brought online quickly.
— Dan Boecher, Community Development Director Cressy Commercial Real Estate