Bristol, TN

Holiday Inn's Tenneva Hotel in Bristol Still a Wreck

John M. Dabbs
Partially collapsed hotel off State Street in Bristol, TennesseeJohn Dabbs/Photographer

The unfinished Holiday Inn and Suites in Bristol, Tennessee, continues to be an eyesore. The partially collapsed structure sits in the center of debris. The debris is the damaged concrete and steel which were removed make the property safe for evaluation.

The property was shored up and deemed safe by Frizzell Construction officials in January. The construction company continues to await site assessments from structural engineers and insurance inspectors.
John Dabbs/Photographer

The cause of the September 25, 2020 collapse remains under investigation. Several floors within the center area of the future Holiday Inn & Suites collapsed that day just before 8:00 PM. Sheila Trinkle with Frizzell Construction said structures are most vulnerable during the construction phase. The company doesn't plan to make other updates until after the investigation is completed.

Waiting game

Frizzell Construction will resume construction, as the lead contractor, when given the all-clear. They have personnel and equipment to send in as soon as investigators and engineers let them know what they've found, and if any work needs to happen with the current structure, prior to resuming construction on what is still standing. This could even require foundation issues. We won't know until the reports are in.

Managing risk with hotel development

The risk in hotel construction projects is multi-faceted. Builders and developers know this and it’s vitally important all involved are aware of them. If setbacks occurs while building because of risk, it could have a serious impact on the cost of development, or effect the company's return on thier investment.

More complicated buildings and grounds have a higher development risk. Location, Operators, the physical building characteristics, construction design, time to completion, and financing all have significant impact on development risk, and strategies used to mitigate them.


Construction risk is felt mainly in pricing, design, quality and potential delays. Mitigation efforts may include:

  • Using a building plan which has already been successfully executed for a similar project
  • Hire proven and skilled architects, and an experienced project manager to oversee the project from beginning to end.
  • Use complete sets of drawings to have a clear picture of the total plan. Have the architect firm submit all drawings in hard-copy and digitally.
  • Use only experienced contractors, who are local and know the specifics required for hotel development projects.
  • Evaluate construction contractors and the feasibility of a lump-sum-contract (agreed upon price for all work before it begins). This shares some of the developers risk with the contractor.
  • Always have contingency plans for hard costs (supplies, labor, etc.) and soft costs (design fees, insurance, etc.) to protect against sudden market or other fluctuations which can impact costs.
  • Draft, review and negotiate the construction contracts with the help of your legal department. Documents should include liquidated damages, milestones, and teh scope and timeing of payment.

Fred Slaughter and Brian Deal of Tenneva, LLC in Bristol, are well versed in the development and construction of large projects in the area. While they continue to wait like the rest of us, so work can resume on what is sure to be a great hotel, we can only imagine the impact it will have on our downtown area.

With the Hotel Bristol and Sessions Hotel just blocks away, the Tenneva will add even more to what can be a resurgence in the atmophere of downtown Bristol. With the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on the horizon, hopefully we can expect to see more of our young people staying in Bristol, to raise their own families, and possibly draw more people here to live as well.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Johnson City, TN

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