Brownwood council OKs grant for hotel renovation

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
The former Holiday Inn Express at 504 W. Commerce in Brownwood is being renovated and will reopen as a Best Western Plus.

Brownwood City Council members approved a Hotel Building Improvement Incentive Grant of $80,000 Tuesday to assist with a $1.5 million renovation of the former Holiday Inn Express.

Billy Stewart bought the building at 504 W. Commerce, which has been unused for several months, in January and is renovating it for use as a Best Western Plus, Brownwood Municipal Development District Executive Director Ray Tipton told council members.

“We’ve been talking to him for the last few months about the possibility of him applying for this program to help out,” Tipton said. “Hotels typically have a higher economic impact and return on investment than other retail, mainly because they generate a lot of ad valorem tax but also the hotel occupancy tax. We developed a special category for our building improvement incentive program.”

Stewart has said Best Western Plus is “a new higher end model for Best Western,” Tipton said.

Stewart anticipates finishing the renovation in October, although he has had trouble obtaining some of the needed building materials because or COVID, Tipton said.

“It looks great,” Tipton said. “I’ve gone through there a couple of times. He’s redone literally everything in there.”

The renovation consists of a complete interior remodel with new floor coverings, drywall, fixtures and furniture, Tipton said.

The building was originally built in 2000 and features 58 rooms.

“You always here comments about ‘why another hotel? We’ve got plenty of them,’” councilman Ed McMillian said. “My son came in from San Antonio two weekends ago. Nothing was happening and he couldn’t get a hotel.”

McMillian said his son was able to find a room in an older drive-in motel. “As far as the nicer ones, there was no room for him,” McMillian said.

“People tell me that all the time and I ask them ‘when was the last time you booked a hotel in Brownwood?’” Tipton said.