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Hotel expected to draw crowds
More conventions will come, visitors bureau says

DULUTH - A new hotel is coming to Duluth, and the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau said more groups and meetings could come right along with it.

A 10-story, 234-room Embassy Suites hotel at the intersection of Sugarloaf Parkway and Satellite Boulevard is expected to be completed by December 2008, according to the Duke Realty Corp.

The hotel would be within walking distance of the Gwinnett Center and the Gwinnett Arena, increasing the number of hotel rooms close to the county's convention center.

"We've been hoping for this for a long time," said Lisa Anders, director of marketing and communications for the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau. "A lot of conventions and national association groups, if they don't have close proximity to the convention center from their hotel, won't consider your site."

The only hotel within walking distance of the convention center is a Holiday Inn on Sugarloaf Parkway, which has about 143 rooms.

Wes Hardy, Duke Realty's leasing representative on the Embassy Suites project, said his company had tried for some time to get a vertical office building on the 4.6-acre property.

Hardy said the market wasn't justifying that type of development and when GS Development came along with the hotel proposal last October it seemed like a better fit.

Duke Realty liked the proposal and sold the land to GS Development who in turn gave Duke Construction (which is a part of the Duke Realty Corp.) the contract to build the hotel. Construction is expected to begin this October.

"It's going to be the nicest hotel in the area," Hardy said. "We think it's going to be a nice amenity for the community."

The hotel will be one of the first "Version Three" Embassy Suites built. The hotel's layout will be different from past Embassy Suites because rooms will feature two-room suites with the living area and the bedroom separated rather than combined, said Richard Weaver, director of hotel operations for GS Development.

The hotel will also feature a nationally recognized steakhouse, but Weaver said he could not release the restaurant's name due to ongoing negotiations.

Duke Realty expects the hotel to bring 100 new jobs to the area.

Anders said there are also two other proposed hotels in the area - a SpringHill Suites and a Residence Inn by Marriott - that could add about 150 rooms a piece.