Hotel Dreams: Warrensburg Might Look Different If It Was Built
In 1968 a 50 room, five-story, downtown hotel, banquet facility, and private club was proposed for downtown Warrensburg at Holden and Madison Streets. If it had been built it might have changed everything we know about Warrensburg's downtown today.
Warrensburg Realtor and Developer J. Kenneth Marr, responsible for such projects as the Broadview Addition, Skyhaven Airport, and its Motel and Inn, and the Warrensburg Nursing and Medical Center proposed the development.
According to a news article found and posted by the Johnson County Missouri Historical Society on Facebook, Marr's was conducting a feasibility study on planned development, and the decision to build or not would then be made after the study's results were known.
The hotel, which the paper called a "modern downtown motor hotel" would be five stories. The first floor would be a restaurant and a banquet room that could hold up to 450 people. A private club where members and guests could enjoy alcoholic beverages would also be on the first floor. The second and third floors would be parking, with the second floor also containing a shopping area, and the third-floor motel rooms and a pool.
Floors four and five would be motel rooms. The rooms would be modern and would each contain a color television.
The article says Marr selected the location because it was within walking distance of the then, Central Missouri State College, and was also a convenient downtown location.
The artist's rendering included has it on the land that Warrensburg's City Hall was eventually built on, and which at the time was the location of the Marr Hotel.
It was never built, and neither the Johnson County Missouri Historical Society nor residents posting about the proposed development on Facebook really had any concrete reasons why it wasn't built.
The Historical Society says Marr built the Holiday Inn out by Highway 50 instead. And in 1968 that was probably a slam dunk. Holiday Inn's were THE hotel of the era. And their business plan largely dictated they be located adjacent to highways and well-traveled roads. They also included a lot of the same things Marr proposed for his five-story downtown hotel, but by building by the highway Marr probably, and this is my speculation, was able to have more rooms and potential guests to fill the rooms.
And, do we think if the hotel was built in 1968, it would still be a hotel today? Would the building still be even standing? A second-floor shopping area, even with parking on that level, seems fairly inconvenient in 2022. And 50 rooms? The artist's rendering makes it seem like a large physical plant for a small hotel.
I don't think the building or the overall concept would have limped out of the 1980s if it were built. I think if the building survived it might be housing, office space, a classroom building, or something for UCM. Maybe it could have been converted into lofts or apartments on the upper floors with businesses on the first. More likely though I think it probably would have been torn down or left to rot as an empty shell.
Marr made the right choice to build his Holiday Inn, and I think everyone is better off than if it were built.
One thing is for sure, if Marr built his downtown Motor Motel, that area would certainly look much different today than it does.