By Jim Bakken
The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced today that the UAB Educational Foundation, a nonprofit entity dedicated to supporting UAB’s mission and operations, has acquired the on-campus DoubleTree by Hilton and adjacent parking deck for $6.7 million, with major renovations planned.
UAB owns the land at University Boulevard and 20th Street South on which the hotel is built, but a long-term lease previously in place put decisions regarding operations and maintenance in the hands of the lessee.
“The hotel occupies an important location and is uniquely suited to meet demands of the university campus,” said Jodie Mote, Educational Foundation treasurer and controller. “The significant planned upgrades will transform the facility to better support UAB and the broader community’s needs.”
There is a great demand by entities on campus, as well as guests and UAB Medicine patients, for the hotel’s amenities including guest rooms, restaurants, parking, and meeting and conference rooms; but many underutilize the current facility. Prior to the acquisition, university officials met with on-campus entities for input regarding their needs and desires for the project.
Now that the acquisition is complete, more feedback will be solicited to guide the significant renovations.
“In every aspect of our mission, we strive to provide the best for our students, faculty and staff to support their success and Birmingham’s continued revitalization,” said UAB Vice President of Finance and Administration Allen Bolton, who serves on the Educational Foundation board. “We are excited that the upgrade of this property — on the east edge of campus — will improve services and enhance our community and the gateway that welcomes students, faculty, staff, patients and guests to UAB.”
Mote says gaining control of this property is an opportunity for the Educational Foundation to support the institution’s unprecedented growth.
“It is important that the new investments in this property deliver the amenities most needed for the best possible experience among those who will utilize the property,” Mote said. “To that end, the Educational Foundation has retained Pyramid Hotel Group to manage the hotel moving forward. They have a tremendous reputation and will work with us to ensure goals for the property are met.”
Pyramid Hotel Group Chief Operating Officer Jim Dina is looking forward to bringing facility improvements and a better guest experience to Birmingham and UAB.
“We are very excited about our new partnership with the UAB Educational Foundation and the DoubleTree Hotel along with the new improvement plans for the hotel,” Dina said. “We are also especially proud to work with our new associates to best serve our guests and the community.”
Renovations of the 298-room hotel with 15,000 square feet of meeting space are estimated to take up to 18 months, and the hotel will remain open throughout.
“This is an important investment in UAB and also in Birmingham’s continued revitalization,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts, who also serves on the Educational Foundation board. “We are grateful that the Foundation’s leadership and board appreciate the strategic value in enhancing this property for UAB and the community.”