COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) — Just like the Hilton Columbus Downtown’s new tower has risen over High Street in recent months, so has the cost of the project that tourism officials have dubbed “Hilton 2.0.”
The 28-story addition to the Hilton is now slated to cost $255 million, up from the $220 million estimated when construction first started in 2019. The project now is two-thirds complete and is slated to open in August.
There are several reasons for the rising cost of the hotel addition, according to Don Brown, executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, which owns the Hilton.
First, the scope of the hotel has expanded since the hotel was first proposed, Brown said.
“For example, we added a rooftop bar and restaurant which wasn’t contemplated back in early 2019,” he said. “We added more meeting space and ballroom space to get it up to 50,000 square feet.”
In addition, Brown said the estimate of $220 million “didn’t reflect real market conditions in Central Ohio” by the time construction of the hotel actually started.
“Commodity prices were much higher than the early estimates suggested, and labor for skilled trades was in short supply and in high demand,” he said. “We had to pay a lot more to build the project than we thought we would.”
The project is being primarily financed by $244 million in bonds, which will be repaid with proceeds from the new hotel, which will become the largest hotel in Ohio when finished. Bed taxes paid by tourists also will help pay down the bonds.
The facilities authority and Hilton Corp. are covering the increased costs, Brown said.
When complete, the tower will feature 463 guest rooms. Between the two Hilton towers, the hotel will have 1,000 rooms.
The hotel will be the tallest addition to the downtown Columbus skyline since the North Bank Park tower condominiums, according to the authority.
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