Demolition underway at former Holiday Inn on West AJ

Demolition is underway at the former Holiday Inn building on West Andrew Johnson Highway in Morristown.

Morristown’s first national chain hotel, the former Holiday Inn on West Andrew Johnson Highway, is being torn down. Something substantial will replace it, but precisely what will follow has not been decided, according to Roger Holbrook, general manager of the WAJ Hampton Inn and local agents for Shiva Suvarna, the limited-liability company that owns the property.

Holbrook says the Holiday Inn was built in 1966. Portofino Italian Restaurant, which fronts the highway, will remain, according to Holbrook.

“The historical significance of the old property is gone,” Holbrook said Wednesday. “Hopefully, it will have a new life and future that will be bright and prosperous.”

Two options on the table are a conventional hotel and an extended-stay hotel. Generally, Holbrook says, property owners don’t locate both types in the same place. He says multiple national chain hotels are looking at the property.

“Hotel chains are always interested in everything – anywhere, any time – if the demographics work out,” Holbrook said.

City officials say Morristown has a shortage of quality hotel rooms due to the requirements of area industries.

Holbrook says the Kentucky-based owners are not committed to rebuilding a hotel, and they are fielding proposals from a range of developers.

“All options are being evaluated,” said Holbrook, who added the owners will announce plans in 2020.

After Holiday Inn ceased operations on West Andrew Johnson Highway, the buildings deteriorated, as did the clientele. While operating under the name Morristown Hotel & Suites, the occupants were successfully targeted multiple times by Morristown Police Department narcotics and vice detectives.

Two years ago, a local contractor announced detailed plans to renovate the property. It’s unclear when management concluded it would be better to raze and rebuild.