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The View from Above: The Broadway II takes shape

Rendering of The Broadway Walnut Tower Addition

The Broadway Hotel’s second tower will nearly triple the COMO cornerstone’s meeting space, add skyline vistas, and enhance the cosmopolitan vibe, completing its owner’s vision — for now.

The Rooftop Bar’s westward view atop The Broadway Hotel (aka The Broadway Columbia — a DoubleTree by Hilton) overlooking downtown Columbia is a unique vantage point. From eight stories up, patrons enjoy breathtaking pastel sunsets, refreshing cross breezes, and a cozy college-town skyline as they clink and converse.

For those who know him, it’s no surprise that owner Dave Parmley had the foresight to manifest this previously only imagined panorama. Now a seasoned entrepreneur and hotelier with 27 years of experience, Parmley once stood on the east end of The District’s downtown drag and visualized the hotel’s future sights, sounds and smells — specifically DoubleTree’s signature fresh-baked cookies handed to guests at check-in.

“If you look down Broadway, 90 percent of the businesses are mom-and-pops, not franchises, and I didn’t want to build a cookie-cutter hotel — no pun intended,” said Parmley. “I wanted to build something complementary to the downtown vibe.”

As The Broadway celebrates its 10th anniversary in March, Parmley is again sharpening the scissors for a momentous ribbon-cutting. A second tower, on Walnut Street north of the current footprint, is under construction. The seven-story, 73,000-square-foot addition will add 80 rooms and nearly triple the hotel’s meeting space with the addition of a 6,000 square foot rooftop ballroom and reception area, and 2,000 square feet of meeting space on the ground floor.

The project, conceived in 2017 and loosely scheduled to open in fall 2024, has demanded patience and perseverance from Parmley and his company, Chesterfield Hotels, Inc. The 2020 COVID pandemic brought construction plans to a halt as the hospitality industry suffered through restrictions, supply-side shortages and other setbacks.

Now, as the jackhammers, wheelbarrows and cranes buzz about like time-lapse footage, Parmley looks forward to delivering a long-awaited resource to downtown Columbia.

“We think there is untapped demand from planners who would like to hold their events here but are unable to find suitable meeting space,” said Parmley, a lifelong Missourian. “Everybody in the Show-Me State comes to Columbia at least once a year for something.”

Heart for Hospitality

Spend a few moments with Parmley and you’ll notice his mind is always on the move, zipping from metaphor to brass tacks while he verbalizes his visions. Perhaps it’s why his career began on roller skates at a Sonic Drive-In in Warrensburg, Missouri. The skates, he recalls, were optional. But he quickly learned they led to greater efficiency — and tips.

Parmley rolled that success into a better job as food and beverage director at the Osage House Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks, where the late Donald Breckenridge took over in the mid-80s. The tycoon ultimately transferred his young prodigy to the Campus Inn in Columbia and appointed him director of sales.

“I moved my water bed into room 148, enjoyed free food and beverage, and money in my pocket,” said Parmley. “Let the good times roll.”

After gaining industry experience and dabbling in residential real estate, Parmley opened his first hotel in 1997: a 91-room Hampton Inn in Chesterfield. One of a trio of partners contributing $300,000 each, Parmley plunked down $250,000 and made up the difference with a credit card.

“It was kind of risky, but the hotel went off like gangbusters,” Parmley said. “We had 88 percent occupancy right off the bat and returned our initial investment in a year and a half.”

Parmley was off and running. The group built a second hotel at Boone’s Crossing in Chesterfield, another somewhat risky move that paid off on a tract of land once submerged during the flood of 1993.

Years later, during his son’s little league tournament in Columbia, Parmley visited his old stomping grounds at the Campus Inn. After a fateful phone call to the hotel’s owner, Parmley purchased the dilapidated property which he razed and replaced with the Hampton Inn & Suites Columbia — replete with meeting space and banquet rooms.

The new hotel was also an immediate hit, hosting high-profile politicians and celebrities including Barack Obama and Snoop Dogg. But it was a limited-service establishment, and Parmley imagined aiming higher.

“This was before the Tiger Hotel had remodeled, and there wasn’t a nice hotel downtown,” said Parmley. “I wanted to do something boutique-y and cutting edge, so I bought the Regency [the former hotel that stood in The Broadway’s current footprint] in 2011.”

Parmley contracted with Hilton, harnessing the DoubleTree brand but also securing flexibility to make his own architectural and stylistic choices. It was an opportunity for Parmley to incorporate the best of what he’d observed over his successful career — commissioning local artists, selecting furniture and design schemes, and incorporating the crown-jewel Rooftop Bar.

“We consider the hotel the launch pad and the crash site,” Parmley said. “We want our guests to experience everything downtown Columbia has to offer.”

Rendering of The Broadway Walnut Tower Addition
Rendering of The Broadway Walnut Tower Addition

A Diamond in The District

“Location, location, location” has been Parmley’s primary strategic focus when breaking ground. But ask how he has sustained success in the hospitality business over the years, and he’ll tell you loyalty and trust matters more than brick and mortar.

Enter Aric Jarvis, general manager of The Broadway since it opened in 2014 and a dynamo dedicated to making each guest feel special.

“I want everyone to feel as if they’re staying at their own home,” Jarvis said. “It says a lot that most of our management team members have been here since day one. The housekeeping director, maintenance manager, director of sales, food and beverage director — they’ve all been here since we opened.”

That experience will pay off as the staff expands to cover the additional square footage and facilities. The new tower — built by PARIC Construction out of St. Louis with a final price tag of around $25 million — will be connected to the existing hotel via enclosed walkways at the fourth and eighth floors. Most importantly, the increased capacity will allow The Broadway to host larger out-of-town meetings and events to become an even bigger boon for The District.

Few local business owners have greater appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between downtown Columbia and quality hospitality than Richard King, former owner of The Blue Note for 34 years. Having booked rooms for legendary acts including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M, Chuck Barry and Willie Nelson, King remembers the neighborhood’s previous lack of lodging.

“During Summer Fest one year, a tour manager said to me, ‘It’s great what you are doing with downtown, but what you really need is a nice hotel,’” King said. “If I were to get into the hotel business, I would copy right out of Dave’s playbook. And this expansion will continue to contribute to the greater good of COMO.”

As a former small-business owner herself, Nickie Davis, executive director for the Downtown Community Improvement District in Columbia, also welcomes a rising tide to lift all boats.

“We have great event spaces, but a lot of them are in smaller, historic establishments,” Davis said. “Adding event spaces to accommodate larger groups of people is exciting. It brings in more and different events, conferences and trade shows. Hopefully these meetings will not only be coming in from St. Louis and Kansas City, but also the smaller towns.”

Parmley’s next vision remains to be seen. Although he envisions a downtown convention complex west of the new tower (he owns several parcels along the south side of Walnut Street east of Tenth Street), the feasibility and logistics are still materializing.

For the moment, he is content welcoming guests to his latest 73,000-square-foot room with a view.

“I’ve made more friends in Columbia in 15 years than anywhere else,” Parmley said. “The vibrancy, the open-mindedness of the community, the fact that it is consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in America — there’s a reason for that. It’s such an energized environment.”

March 2014
The Broadway Columbia — A DoubleTree By Hilton opens.

July 2014
Hotel receives the Deal of the Year Award from DoubleTree Hotels.

May 2018
Aric Jarvis earns Leader of The Year Award, Hilton Full-Service Hotels.

November 2018
The Roof debuts igloos, insulated transparent domes for cold-weather cocktails.

July 2023
Construction begins on the Tower II expansion.

March 2024
The Broadway celebrates its 10th anniversary.

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