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Convention Center Hotel On Track To Open In October

By Cece Nunn, posted May 17, 2017
The Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront hotel, next to the Wilmington Convention Center, is shown Wednesday under construction at 9 Estell Lee Place. (Photo courtesy of Brooks Johnson of Harmony Hospitality)
The Wilmington Convention Center hotel is on track to open by October, an official with the hotel's development company said Wednesday.

The $40 million, 186-room Embassy Suites is under construction by hotel owner and operator Harmony Hospitality. Its full name is Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront, located at 9 Estell Lee Place, not to be confused with the existing Hilton Wilmington Riverside, 301 N. Water St., which is owned by Sotherly Hotels.

The pace of construction on the Embassy Suites, which is connected to the convention center at 515 Nutt St., has picked up after some delays, said Brooks Johnson, director of development for Harmony Hospitality.

“It was kind of slow getting started, and we encountered some unexpected obstacles in the ground. We knew there were going to be things in the ground, and sure enough, there were,” Johnson said. “So that took a little extra time and money.”

In one instance, crews had to remove an old concrete warehouse footing, a feat that cost $50,000.

But despite the delays, the development team has been able to tweak the hotel, Johnson said. He said, for example, Harmony Hospitality President Page Johnson was able to expand the square footage of the rooftop bar a little.

Harmony Hospitality has also made progress in hiring, appointing Melissa Fallis as director of sales and marketing. Fallis joins the Embassy Suites with more than 11 years of hotel sales and catering experience, most recently working at Hilton Wilmington Riverside where her jobs included association sales manager and director of catering.

Fallis is currently based out of office space that Harmony has rented from the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce next door at 1 Estell Lee Place.

Already, the hotel has bookings, including rooms for participants in the 56th annual National Convention of the U.S. Sweet Potato Council in January, Brooks Johnson said. About 500 people are expected to attend that convention, said Fredia Brady, general manager of the Wilmington Convention Center.

Brooks Johnson said Harmony has some finalists for the Embassy Suites general manager position, and after that job is filled, more hiring for the hotel will begin.

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