In Middletown, the owners of Atlantic Beach Hospitality Group have resurrected plans suspended during the recession to replace the Knights Inn motel on Aquidneck Avenue with a higher-end, 198-room hotel.
In Newport, the principals of Northeast Collaborative Architects want to expand and convert their historic office building on Washington Square into a 30-unit, extended-stay hotel with conference room and roof deck.
And across the Sakonnet Passage in Tiverton, Carpionato Group intends to include a hotel in its $100 million, 18-building Tiverton Crossing project now going through local permitting.
After some slow years, the market for new hotel rooms in Newport County appears to be warming.
Evan Smith, president and CEO of Discover Newport, said in addition to the projects made public, more are being quietly explored by developers and hospitality businesses as the economy picks up.
While Middletown has seen the most new lodging construction in recent years, Smith said Tiverton and Little Compton could have the most untapped demand now.
“We believe the Tiverton project would be great and that the area can support it,” Smith said. “Sakonnet Vineyards is growing and is only going to get more active with events. They are looking for overnight rooms and now there is no place to stay out there.”
While Carpionato’s Tiverton project would be big, something even bigger is potentially looming just across the town and state line in Fall River, where Foxwoods resorts hopes to build a resort casino on the site of the New Harbor Mall.
If Foxwoods’ Fall River bid is chosen by state officials as one of three authorized Massachusetts casinos, it would place a brand new, full-service gambling hall with its own hotel less than a mile from the Rhode Island border and minutes from downtown Newport.
The casino would certainly dim the already uncertain prospects of the Newport Grand slots parlor.
But what impact it would have on area hotels and the rest of the Newport County tourism industry is less clear.
Smith said Discover Newport is “watching Foxwoods,” knowing it will impact Newport Grand, but says concern that a Fall River casino could have a big effect on the rest of the hospitality sector in the area may be overstated.
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