Investors plan to bring new hotel to Overton Square - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Investors plan to bring new hotel to Overton Square

(WMC-TV) - Two Memphis businessmen believe they are looking to invest in Overton Square at the right time.

Rishi Chopra and Jay Kumar have a contract on the old French Quarter Inn and plan to turn it into a Comfort Suites.  Wednesday, they faced the people who would be their neighbors in Midtown.

Chopra and Kumar were met by an overflowing crowd.  Resident after resident stood to say they wanted an upscale hotel.  Many were not convinced a Comfort Suites, owned by Choice Hotels, is suited for Midtown.

Investors said a big name is necessary for success.

"Choice Hotels has a large customer base, and with 103 rooms here in Midtown, with the property being close for the last two and a half years, we have to bring a brand that will succeed," said Kumar.

In the crowd was Bob Loeb of Loeb Properties, who is renovating Overton Square.  He said it is crucial the hotel project complement the work he is doing.

"It's essential because the weak link breaks the chain, and we want to build at the high end we think the market can support here," said Loeb.

Loeb publicly invited the potential owners to participate in planning meetings to make sure the projects move in a similar direction.

"He's willing to meet with us to make sure everybody is happy at the same time as make a nice product," said Chopra.

Many Midtown residents said they want more than a nice product.

"With Bob Loeb putting $20 million into Overton Square, this city putting a lot of money into it, we don't want a cheap motel we could find in any part of Memphis," said Gordon Alexander with Midtown Action Coalition.

The two men plan to invest around $6 million in the purchase and development of the building.  They said they can keep the cost low because they will utilize the existing structure.

If they had to build from the ground up, it would cost around $12 million.

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