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Martens Cos. upping stake in regional hotel business

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, July 10, 2014, at 7:05 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, July 11, 2014, at 7:12 a.m.

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A local commercial real estate firm is increasing its stake in the regional hotel business.

Hospitality Management, a division of the Martens Cos., opened its first hotel as a developer last month, and it has promoted one of its brokers to oversee the division that now owns and manages three hotels.

Construction of the 69-room Best Western Plus Patterson Park Inn in Arkansas City began last November.

“We wanted to be part of, or near the medical center,” said Jeff Walenta, an NAI Martens broker who is now Hospitality Management’s director of operations.

The new hotel at 6100 Patterson Parkway is within walking distance of South Central Kansas Regional Medical Center, which opened at 6401 Patterson Parkway in 2011. The hotel and hospital are on the north end of the city and just west of U.S. 77.

Walenta said the Arkansas City hotel is the first one that Hospitality Management developed. The two other hotels it owns and manages – a 122-room Best Western and a 60-room Econo Lodge, both in Blackwell, Okla. – were acquired.

Steve Martens, CEO of the Martens Cos., said he created the division about three years ago because of work he had done nearly two decades ago as a court-appointed receiver and trustee of bankrupt hotel properties in Kansas and South Dakota.

“I think what piqued our interest was the realization that the hospitality industry was coming out of recession and mid-major market brands were really coming out with new products, new amenities, and there was a significant increase in the average daily rates of those properties,” Martens said.

Walenta said he sees a number of different segments of business for the Arkansas City hotel, including the hospital but also business from other institutions such as Southwestern College in nearby Winfield and events such as the Walnut Valley Festival, the annual bluegrass festival, also in Winfield.

“There’s a lot of opportunities down there,” he said.

Walenta said Hospitality Management doesn’t have any new projects planned at this point, “but we’re always looking for additional opportunities.”

He said the division isn’t limited to purchasing or developing additional hotels only in Kansas and Oklahoma.

“Right now I’d say it’s a 300- to 400-mile radius, something we can drive to in a day,” Walenta said. “But if it’s a great opportunity (beyond that radius) we’ll look at it.”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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