After years in development and planning, and almost a year of construction, the opening of Denison’s Hilton Garden Inn and Texoma Event Center appears to be just around the corner. On Wednesday, representatives for the hotel chain announced that the hotel and convention center will open its doors to the public on Nov. 19.
“We are really excited about (the opening),” said Hotel General Manager Norman Marks. “I think the community will be pleased to see what we have to offer.”
The facility will host 130 hotel rooms a restaurant and bar, said Marks. However, the true star of the show will be the adjoining Texoma Event Center, which will have over 20,000-square-feet in conference and meeting space. Included in that space will be the 10,000 square foot ballroom, which can seat about 810 for dinner, or about 1,000 in conference seating, Marks said.
The hotel and conference center, when open, will create about 55 full-time jobs, with another 15 part-time jobs possible. The staffing for the conference center will be based on events and functions, said Marks, but he expects for the entire facility to be busy with events.
While the hotel expects to start booking hotel rooms within a month, it is currently booking events for the event center. On Wednesday, the center was booked for its first event — a company Christmas party. Marks said while this is the first event that has been booked, there has been strong interest in booking events for the holiday season.
Construction began on the facility last October, but the initial idea for a conference center in Denison came out of a Denison Development Alliance planning retreat nearly a decade ago.
“The No. 1 priority of that (meeting) was the recruitment of an event center,” said DDA President Tony Kaai. “The region desperately needed a modern event center on Highway 75.”
Initial planning and development of the project spanned from 2006 until 2008, when the Hilton Garden Inn and Texoma Event Center was announced. The project “went dark” and was stalled with the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, said Kaai. The project was restarted in 2011 with the help of a new developer.
Outside of the development itself, the project is expected to spur economic growth throughout the region. Kaai said the hotel and conference center will have impact on the Denison’s hotel occupancy tax, local retail and restaurant sales as visitors stay and spend money in the area. A possibly bigger impact will come as the hotel and event center take the place as the first major “anchor” in this section of the Gateway Village development, along the intersection of Highway 75 and FM 691.
“It is a catalyst for that northwest corner,” said Denison Mayor Jared Johnson, referring to the intersection. “Its proximity to Sherman and Denison both makes it an ideal location.”
Johnson said, with the development of the hotel, other businesses are expected to develop around it. As of now, Johnson said there was “not a lot of announcements, but a lot of interest” in development around the facility.
Kaai said the development will be a boon to the city due to the sales due to the taxes that it will help generate. However, it will be five years until the city will start taking in the hotel occupancy tax generated at the hotel.
An incentive was approved to assist in the development of the facility, in which the city will not start taking occupancy taxes for the first five years, Denison Chamber of Commerce President Anna McKinney said. However, McKinney said, as larger events take place at the event center, Denison could see occupancy tax from overflow in other hotels. After the first five years, McKinney estimates that the city could see about $200,000 annually from the occupancy tax.
Outside of the occupancy tax and other direct incomes created from the development, McKinney said the traffic generated could create a “new customer base” and generate interest in the city.
“This will put Denison on the map for many large conventions and groups,” she said.