Former Hilton Garden Inn of Killeen hotel guests have expressed frustration over the lack of communication from the hotel’s owner following the fire that destroyed the hotel’s top floor last month.
On the evening of Feb. 19, the fully occupied four-story hotel was engulfed in flames. There were no major injuries reported after the fire, but hotel guests are still in the dark as to what comes next. An investigation into the cause is ongoing, the fire marshal’s office said Tuesday. Read more here: https://bit.ly/3rdX8kA.
The hotel is currently owned by Le Family LLC, according to records from the Bell County Appraisal District. The Herald has been unable to reach the owners of Le Family LLC.
However, Tuesday evening Hilton Garden Inn of Killeen Meneral manager Cheryl Shibuya issued the following statement to the Herald regarding the alleged lack of communication with hotel guests.
“At the Hilton Garden Inn Killeen, guest and team members safety is our primary concern,” Shibuya wrote. “Once the authorities provided clearance to enter the lobby, we immediately began reaching out to those affected. Our team is contacting each guest personally, to provide them with the most updated information. We continue to reach out to those we have yet to connect with in order to make necessary arrangements to retrieve any belongings.”
Hotel guest Debbie Hargreaves, who was there the night of the fire, said Tuesday she had yet to be contacted by anyone from the hotel. She also said the hotel’s fire alarms didn’t sound the evening of the fire.
The Herald sent a question to Shibuya about the fire alarms not working during the massive blaze, but has not yet received a reply.
Shibuya said guests can email inquiries to email@example.com and we will respond directly.
“We will provide updates as they become available and appreciate the outpouring of support while we navigate through this difficult situation,” she said.
The Hilton Garden Inn, located at 2704 O.W. Curry Drive, in Killeen was appraised at $9,215,810 in 2020 — an increase of 41% from the appraised value the year prior, according to records from the Bell County appraisal district.
The Herald asked the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County to explain why a hotel would spike in value 41% in a given year. Chief Appraiser Billy White said Tuesday the overall market for hotels in Bell County saw an increase in 2020.
“Hotels are valued using an income approach,” White wrote Tuesday. “The increase from 2019 to 2020 was due to a few reasons. The income that the hotel received from room rentals increased in 2020. The market for hotels in Bell County also increased in 2020. According to our records, there have been no permits or improvements made to the property from 2019 to 2020.”
Looking at appraisal district records for comparable hotels in Bell County, the four-story Hilton Garden Inn in Temple, located at 1749 Scott Blvd., saw an increase of 5% from 2019 to 2020, while the three-story Hampton Inn of Killeen, located at 2702 O. W. Curry Drive near the hotel that burned, saw an increase of 46% in the same time period.