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5/6/2018 10:51:00 AM
Rooms for growth: New South Bend hotels may drive business downtown

Ed Semmler, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Three of downtown South Bend’s main gathering spots already are contributing about $20 million a year to the local economy and supporting 213 jobs.

That’s according to a study conducted in 2017 to measure the economic impact of the Century Center, the Morris Performing Arts Center and the Palais Royale, said Aaron Perri, executive director of the city’s Venues, Parks and Arts department.

The same type of study performed in 2011 showed the three venues resulted in an economic impact of $15.9 million and 168 jobs, indicating there already was positive momentum as a result of new restaurants and bars that opened in between, Perri said.

And the growth in downtown spending is likely to expand at an even greater rate thanks to the opening of the Aloft hotel and the Courtyard by Marriott over the past several months, according to those involved in the hospitality and visitor businesses.

“The first quarter was our best in 27 years,” said Mark McDonnell, proprietor of the LaSalle Grill, citing the opening of the Aloft as one of the key factors behind the boost.

With the addition of the Courtyard, McDonnell is optimistic the first quarter wasn’t a fluke. In fact, he said, he’s developed a relationship with the Aloft and he’s hoping to do the same with the other hotels by offering guests an incentive to visit his establishment.

While the Courtyard and Aloft are new, the Double Tree by Hilton received a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago and is set to receive another $1 million-plus in additional upgrades over the next few months.

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