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'Dynamic': Backers of downtown Billings hotel say it will spur economic growth

Downtown Billings
Posted at 5:07 PM, Mar 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 08:08:33-04

BILLINGS - Supporters of the newly proposed Marriott hotel in downtown Billings are predicting it will spur economic growth in the area.

The project involves converting the old City Hall building into a parking garage, which was unanimously approved by the Billings City Council on Monday, and paves the way for the developers to begin building the new hotel.

That hotel will be built where the current Rockman building sits, which is located next door to Burger Dive. The Rockman building at 2704 Second Ave. N. would be destroyed to make way for the project.


Project Developer Bill Honaker said that the addition of an upscale hotel will make a huge impact on downtown Billings.

"I just think this is going to be dynamic," Honaker said Tuesday afternoon. "Projects that have some scale, they help to kind of change the fabric of what downtown started to look like and feel like."

Honaker, who has lived in Billings his entire life, said that he hopes this project will generate more momentum to help regrow downtown.

"Even if it's not just putting a bunch of money into it, if you just put a whole bunch of effort and a whole bunch of focus, things will change," Honaker said.

Honaker added that the city approving the $2.8 million sale of the old City Hall helps generate what is needed to move forward with the project. The city is moving its operations to the Stillwater building.

The current renderings of the hotel show that it will feature seven stories and will hold 140 rooms. That's a commodity Big Sky Economic Development Director Steve Arveschoug said will be exciting for all downtown businesses.

"They want to see more people," Arveschoug said Tuesday morning. "More people on the streets, more people buying, more people at restaurants. It's all about creating that vibrancy and synergy downtown, so this is an investment that has ripple effect that are nothing but positive for the direction we're headed."

Best Western Clocktower Inn Owner Steve Wahrlich echoed Arveschoug's support, even though it could mean more competition for him.

"If downtown does better, I'll do better," Wahrlich said. "I've always believed that, and I've always tried to practice it. To have that type of money being spent in downtown, I think it's huge."

The current plan is to have the hotel construction completed by the end of 2026, although Honaker said with a project of this magnitude, that timeline could change.

Honaker has had his hands on many similar projects and is familiar with the community. He was the owner of Walker's Grill for 30 years and also developed the Home 2 Suites, located near Dehler Park.

Home 2 Suites

The 63-year-old Honaker said the motivation behind this project is different from ones in the past.

"I mean at this age, I might not even be around to see if this is a big success or not in the next 20 years," Honaker said. "I'm not really building it for my ego or that. I'm building it for younger people, the next generation, so that they can be proud to live in Billings."