Back in March 2019, the metal buildings that stood at the intersection of North 40th Avenue and Lundy Lane in midtown Hattiesburg were demolished to make way for a new $7.8 million Avid Hotel.
That project recently reached completion with the opening of the 79-room hotel, which is the only one of its kind in Mississippi.
“We are super excited,” said Lanequia “NeNe” Dexter, who serves as front officer and sales manager for the hotel. “We’ve been getting group blocks, from soccer teams coming to the area and things like that. We have a couple of wedding buses coming through already, and a bunch of walk-ins.”
The four-floor hotel, which is under the IHG umbrella, offers king-sized and double rooms, all of which are non-smoking. Guests also can enjoy a 24-hour fitness center along with a complimentary breakfast.
“Our rooms have blackout curtains, so when I tell you it blacks out the whole room, it’s completely dark,” Dexter said. “Our doors have the sweepers at the bottom, so you can’t even see light from the hallway.
“When you’re in the room, you’re getting a sound night of sleep. Unless you know that it’s 7 o’clock in the morning, you will not know that.”
The Avid Hotel project is the latest phase in the Chavez Square plan, which was begun by local developer Nick Welch in 2004 and eventually led to the building of businesses like The Grand Theatre, Mugshots Grill & Bar and the Courtyard Marriott.
The cost of the project comes from a Tax Increment Financing bond, which reallocates funds from property taxes to encourage investment within a particular district.
“We’re located in a central area of Hattiesburg, being in midtown,” Dexter said. “We’re so close to a lot of different restaurants, and we’re even close to the hospitals – especially with COVID going on, they have a lot of different people that are delivering the vaccines and things like that.
“So, I think we’ll be able to provide a nice, comfortable stay for the people that are traveling. We actually have a construction crew right now, and I think they’re paving the road for Brett Favre’s house, and they love it here.”
Even with business as good as it’s been, Dexter expects it to ramp up more when more vaccines are delivered and restrictions from COVID-19 are loosened.
“We actually just got off a revenue call, and right now a lot of the hotels are staying at about 50% (occupancy), so they’re doing pretty good,” she said. “We have (another hotel that we own) in Laurel, and that property has been selling out every night or staying at 80%.
“We’re not getting that everyday corporate travel like we used to, due to COVID, but the contractors still have to travel, and of course we’re getting nurses and things like that. That’s helping us out a lot.”
During the building phase, the hotel generated approximately 75 construction jobs.
“It’s always exciting to see new investment in Hattiesburg, especially in this case when you have a new hotel brand open in our city that you currently won’t find anywhere else in the state of Mississippi,” Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George said. “I think this new Avid Hotel is a great addition to the midtown area and will provide Hattiesburg’s visitors another high-quality place to stay next time they’re in town.”