Posts tagged with Holiday Inn

City set to select Stoddard to serve as interim city manager; speculation that Holiday Inn will become a DoubleTree by Hilton

Lawrence city commissioners are now off and running in their process to find a replacement for departing City Manager David Corliss. As expected, commissioners are turning to current Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard to serve as an interim replacement for Corliss, who has taken a job in Colorado.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting will consider approving an employment contract to pay Stoddard $145,000 a year to serve as the interim city manager. The contract is open ended in terms of length. Stoddard will serve as interim city manager until a permanent replacement is found. The contract allows Stoddard to apply for the permanent position. It also calls for her to be reinstated as an assistant city manager if she is not selected as Corliss’ replacement. It provides a severance package of six months' pay if she is dismissed from her duties by the City Commission or by a new city manager within one year of the new manager's start date. All in all, the contract seems to be pretty standard for an interim position.

Stoddard has deep ties to Lawrence. She was born and raised here, and received both her graduate and undergraduate degrees from Kansas University. Stoddard was hired in 2007 to become an assistant city manager. She previously had worked as a deputy city manager for the city of Manhattan. She has expertise in working on economic development issues. She’s led City Hall’s efforts on many of the downtown redevelopment projects in recent years.

Stoddard’s appointment as interim city manager was largely expected. She’s the most experienced assistant city manager on the staff. Both Mayor Jeremy Farmer and City Commissioner Mike Amyx already had publicly endorsed her for the position.

I haven’t yet talked with Stoddard about whether she plans to apply to become Corliss’ permanent replacement. I would suspect that she’ll give it strong consideration. The position likely will attract a large number of applicants. KU is home to a top-ranked graduate program in public administration, which means there is an unusually large number of city managers across the country that have a personal connection with Lawrence.

City commissioners still haven’t provided details on when they plan to begin the formal search process to find a new City Manager. Hiring an interim, though, was seen as the first step.

Corliss’ last day with the city will be May 28. Stoddard’s tenure as interim city manager will begin May 29. City Hall is hosting a public reception for Corliss at 5:30 p.m. May 11 at the Carnegie Building in downtown. Corliss is leaving Lawrence to become town manager for Castle Rock, Colo.

In other news and notes from around town:

• It appears a major change is coming to Lawrence’s largest hotel as the community gets more serious about attracting conferences and conventions. I’m hearing a lot of speculation that the Lawrence Holiday Inn and Convention Center is set to drop the Holiday Inn brand and become a DoubleTree Hotel, which is part of the Hilton chain.

Holiday Inn General Manager Stephen Horton said he couldn’t comment on possible brand changes. But he said a formal announcement about “very significant changes” for the hotel is expected within the next few days.

We previously have reported that a major renovation project for the Holiday Inn, located off the Kansas Turnpike on McDonald Drive, is in the works. In January we reported that the ballroom and convention center would be closed in June for a complete renovation. But the idea that the hotel is going to become part of the prominent Hilton system is new.

The DoubleTree by Hilton chain has more than 400 hotels in 33 countries, according to its website. It is perhaps best known for providing guests a warm cookie upon arrival. (It is chocolate chip, and the chain uses 950,000 pounds of chocolate chips each year, which also is known as a smidgen in the Lawhorn household.)

Horton told me some renovation work on rooms has begun. He said several rooms will be larger. It was unclear to me whether the total room count at the hotel would remain the same. With 192 rooms, the Holiday Inn is the largest hotel in the city. With a little less than 15,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space, the hotel also is the largest hotel-based conference and event space in the city. Many of the renovations will be focused on that meeting and banquet space, Horton said. He said the total amount of space won’t change, but everything else about it will.

“This won’t just put a new shine on it,” Horton said. “We’ll basically be doing everything from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling.”

I expect to get more details about the renovations in the next few days. I suspect we’re talking about major changes in style, design, amenities and technology. A lot has changed in the conference and event world since the space was last renovated. (For example, if you want to host the Kansas City Royals Caravan, you now need a full first aid station and the ability to bolt chairs to the floor.)

We’ll see how the changes to the Holiday Inn impact the discussion about whether to build a new conference center downtown. Full Disclosure: Owners of The World Company, which publishes the Journal-World and, have proposed building a conference center, hotel and mixed-use project on downtown property owned by the company.

I suspect city commissioners in the next few weeks will have some conversations about where a downtown conference center falls on their list of priorities. A preliminary report by a city-hired consultant is now complete, and it finds that there is some unmet demand for conference center space in the city. I’ll bring you more details on that report as I wade through it.

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Boulevard Brewing Co. part of new restaurant at Lawrence Holiday Inn

Lawrence is many different types of towns. We're a university town. We're a basketball town. And as a quick peek into any of those glass recycling Dumpsters around the city can attest, we're also a beer town.

The folks at Kansas City-based Boulevard Brewing Co. are hoping to capitalize on that reputation more than they already do. Boulevard Brewing Co. is part of a new venture to open a Boulevard Grill inside the Lawrence Holiday Inn and Convention Center, 200 McDonald Drive.

The restaurant and bar will replace the Paddy O'Quigley's that has been in the hotel for several years.

Stephen Horton, general manager of the hotel, told me the switch will occur this week. The restaurant has a ribbon cutting scheduled for Dec. 19.

Horton said the restaurant always will have a minimum of six Boulevard beers on tap, and also will feature bottles of several of Boulevard's premium beers, such as its Smokestack Series, its IPA, its 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat and its Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

The restaurant also will have several dishes that incorporate Boulevard Beer, such as a bratwurst dish with a Boulevard Pale Ale mustard, and a fish and chips dish that uses a Boulevard brew in its batter. Plus, the restaurant will make suggestions on which Boulevard beer goes best with certain types of dishes.

(See, as I tell my wife, I'm not going there to drink beer. I'm going there to get a culinary education. Lawrence is an education town too, after all.)

Horton said the Holiday Inn became interested in a Boulevard Grill after the hotel's parent company opened one in the Sheraton Four Points hotel near Kansas City International.

"And Boulevard was very eager to get more exposure into Lawrence," Horton said. "As they said, it is a great beer town."

Horton said the restaurant will have a sports bar theme, and he hopes the establishment will appeal to local residents in addition to hotel guests. Plans call for the restaurant to be open only for evening meals, with an opening time of 5 p.m. on Sundays through Fridays. The restaurant, however, will open at noon on Saturdays.

In other news and notes from around town:

• I don't know if there is an actual policy needed on whether I should have two Boulevards with every bratwurst I consume, or three, but we do have a Douglas County Food Policy Council. (No word on whether the bratwurst issue is on a future agenda.) Soon, the Food Policy Council will be a joint endeavor with the city.

City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will consider adopting a resolution making the council a joint board of the city and county. City commissioners will appoint nine of the 23 members of the council. Some city commissioners had expressed an interest in the city becoming more involved in food policy issues.

County commissioners agreed, noting that the city already is making available city-owned land for the Common Ground program, which provides a place for urban gardening and farming to take place. The Food Policy Council, all joking aside, considers issues such as the population's access to locally grown food, issues related to agricultural sustainability and other such topics.

• Speaking of the Common Ground program, leaders of the effort have put together their annual report for 2013. The big number in the report is 40,000. That's the number of pounds of produce grown by gardeners in the program in 2013.

Organizers of the program are estimating about 120 gardeners took part in the program and tended gardens at nine different sites. Those sites produced an estimated 40,000 pounds of food that had a market value of about $80,000. About 2,000 pounds of food were donated to organizations such as Just Food, the Ballard Center, LINK and Central Middle School.

The program had 5.6 acres of ground in production in 2013, but that number is slated to grow in 2014. The city is adding three more sites in 2014, with each site ranging in size from 0.4 to 1.5 acres. People interested in farming on a site need to submit an application to the city by 5 p.m. on Jan. 6. The city is hosting an informational meeting about the program at 5 p.m. today at City Hall.

Applications can be found here.

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