Published Oct. 5, 2012
Work on the future Sheraton Convention Center in downtown Columbia will begin in earnest starting Monday, said Columbia hotelier Rick Patel.
Patel, owner of the Sheraton Downtown Columbia, said Thursday he’s proceeding with the project after recently securing financing.
“We needed this to support the Sheraton,” Patel said. The Historic Columbia Foundation is partnering with Patel on the project.
The convention center, 1208 Washington St., was part of the plan when he opened the Sheraton hotel at 1400 Main St. in 2010, Patel said. The buildings are across the street from each other.
But the sluggish economy and a tight lending environment held up the project, he said.
The Sheraton’s convention center will be in the former First National Bank & Business Center, originally built in 1911.
The three-story building consists of about 11,000 square feet and features a number of meeting rooms, including the former bank vault. The building can be used for a range of activities from business meetings to weddings.
Renovation and restoration of the building should be completed by fall 2013.
About 40 to 50 construction jobs will be created by the restoration project. Once it opens, about 20 jobs for the local hotel and hospitality business will be created.
The project represents an investment of more than $2 million, Patel said.
Patel said he believes the business climate is right to make the investment in downtown, which has seen a number of new companies move into the Main Street towers, as well as new retail stores and restaurants.
“It’s 100% back,” Patel said. “It’s already passed what it was five to six years ago.”