As one hotel prepares to open in Gilbert, two others have been removed from the drawing board.
Sunridge Hotel Group, a 28-year-old developer of about 30 hotels with operations in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, announced Wednesday that it backed out of a deal to purchase land near the northwest corner of Williams Field Road and SanTan Village Parkway. The site would have hosted a twin facility consisting of a Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott.
Construction of the hotels - with 100 rooms each and a common courtyard - was pegged at about $25 million and was supposed to have started earlier this year and ended in December 2010.
Brian Welker, president of Sunridge, cited as factors economic forces and a recent surge of hotel construction in that area of Gilbert.
"I think they (hotels) are all having a little tough time," he said.
Welker said Sunridge was in escrow on the property west of SanTan Village mall but withdrew itself when the economy tanked. He left open the possibility of reconsidering the plans at a later time.
"We just backed out of the deal (for the land) and thought we'll maybe take a look at it again down the road," he said.
The news came as workers put the finishing touches on the Hampton Inn & Suites at Pecos Road and Val Vista Drive.
The approximately 100-room hotel opens Sept. 23, increasing the number of hotels in Gilbert fourfold in under a year. Put another way, that's nearly a 240 percent jump from 139 rooms to 466 rooms.
That increase was part of wave of hotel construction across the Valley that started before the economy began to struggle, said Kristen Jarnagin, spokeswoman for the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association.
But with the Valley's year-to-date occupancy down 14.4 percent and revenue per occupied room down 27.7 percent, builders are hesitant to move forward on to hotels, she said.
"Really, as far as hospitality, all new build has been basically put on hold for the most part," she said.
The same goes for Gilbert and the Santan portion of Loop 202, she added.
"I don't see Gilbert or (the) Santan-specific area being any different than any other area, and once the economy does start to rebound, I think that would be a very desirable area because of all the amenities and the shopping and the dining. People like to stay where there are a lot of amenities."
The owners of Hampton Inn & Suites acknowledged that business will be affected by the slumping economy, but they remain confident in the area, saying it draws a lot of leisure travelers.
Pravine Punjyia, a principal in the company, said the new hotel will produce about 30 new jobs and upward of $200,000 in annual tax revenue.
Welker, meanwhile, said he's in escrow on property for a different hotel in Gilbert.
He wouldn't disclose any additional details other than saying it would be in another area of town.