Representatives from Franklin County, City of Columbus, Turner Construction Company, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, Hilton Worldwide, community leaders and other hotel project supporters celebrated the “topping out” of the $140 million Hilton Columbus Downtown scheduled to open in fall 2012. The convention headquarters property will be located on the west side of High Street directly adjacent to the SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center and Nationwide Arena.
In recognition of Hilton Columbus Downtown reaching its highest point in construction, the topping out ceremony was attended by Franklin County Commissioners Marilyn Brown, Paula Brooks and John O’Grady, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman; Kyle Rooney, vice president and general manager for Turner Construction Company’s Columbus office, John S. Christie, chairman of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, Bill Jennison, executive director, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and Christian Coffin, general manager, Hilton Columbus Downtown.
“Hilton Columbus Downtown is a structure designed to fit into the diverse growing downtown of Columbus,” stated John S. Christie, chairman, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. “It is a building that connects the Short North Arts District to the ever-expanding Arena District. The project is on time and on budget, based on great coordination between the owner, architect, construction manager and the Hilton organization. It will be a showcase for downtown.”
“Today marks an important milestone in long-standing relationship between Hilton and the City of Columbus and our distinguished business partners involved in this monumental project,” said Christian Coffin, general manager, Hilton Columbus Downtown. “We are honored that Hilton was selected as the hotel partner for this project to provide additional rooms to help meet the city’s growing demand for convention business at the state, regional and national level,” Coffin added. “For today’s topping out ceremony, we wanted to do something different. Since the hotel features a striking contemporary design, we asked a local ironwork designer to create a green metal tree and give it a more modern re-interpretation.”
The project is a collaboration between the Franklin County Commissioners, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority, City of Columbus and Nationwide Realty Investors, Inc. Hilton Worldwide manages the hotel and provides day-to-day operations support including sales, marketing and customer service.
“We are working to make Columbus a best-in-class destination for national conventions and events, and this hotel is a cornerstone to attract millions of new visitors each year to enjoy our restaurants, shopping, arts and sports,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Visitor spending has a major local impact and I cannot wait to welcome all that new business when these doors open during our bicentennial in 2012,” added Mayor Coleman.
“Given the size and scope of the new Hilton Columbus Downtown, we truly can step up to a new level of competition for events, conventions, sports and trade shows,” stated County Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “This industry represents some 60,000 jobs in Franklin County and this is just the sort of new economic development that we want to keep growing for our future,” Commissioner Brown added.
The hotel topping out ceremony marks a time-honored construction custom dating back more than one thousand years. With its Scandinavian origins, local superstition held that it was necessary to appease the gods and ancestral spirits living in the trees that were cut and used in building structures. In modern times, once the top story of a structure is completed, a live evergreen is hoisted to the top of the building. For the building’s topping out ceremony, a new twist on an old tradition was created. A distinctive green metal tree designed by local ornamental iron designer, Dan Fortin of Fortin Ironworks, will be positioned next to a traditional evergreen on top of the 14th floor’s I-beam framework.
“Construction is progressing on schedule and we are optimistic that the hotel will be completed on its anticipated opening date in the fall of 2012,” said Kyle Rooney, vice president and general manager for Turner Construction Company’s Columbus office.
“With the addition of the Hilton Columbus Downtown, Columbus can now offer multiple downtown-headquarter hotel opportunities to more than one convention or trade show at a time, as well as meet the needs of our existing annual business that continues to grow each year,” said Bill Jennison, executive director, Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority. “The additional rooms and meeting space the Hilton Columbus Downtown brings, significantly strengthens our product offering in the global market allowing us to host larger national conventions and trade shows within the 1.7 million-square-foot Greater Columbus Convention Center,” Jennison added.