Mayor Sandy Stimpson welcomed a new 93-room Hilton Garden Inn with a groundbreaking at the corner of Conception and St. Francis streets this morning.

Crews were working Wednesday morning to tear up asphalt on a parking lot at the site, as Stimpson announced the start of the project, alongside Councilman Levon Manzie.

“This corner is a premier site in the city,” Stimpson said.

Manzie said the project represents a continued effort to bring excitement back to the downtown area.

“The vibrancy and revitalization is not stopping,” he said. “It’s ever-increasing.”

The hotel is being built by Cowart Hospitality Services and owner Mike Cowart, who is responsible for two other hotel projects downtown — the Hampton Inn and Candlewood Suites.

Cowart said the hotel will be custom built and will contain an “upscale cocktail lounge” that will “add a whole new level of choice” to downtown consumers.

He said the inside of the hotel will be contemporary.

It has been previously reported that this project was one of the reasons BayFest had to downsize its footprint to remain downtown, as the parking lot on the site has previously hosted one of the festival’s main stages.

While BayFest founder Bobby Bostwick stopped short of calling it “downsizing” in a phone interview today, he said the board will have to make adjustments to this year’s event to accommodate construction on the site of the festival’s R&B stage.

He said plans are not finalized, but the adjustments may include replacing the smaller gospel stage with R&B and dispersing gospel music throughout the festival on other stages.

BayFest had planned a presentation to the Mobile City Council Tuesday. The presentation was planned at noon, but Bostwick said the length of the council meeting forced them to reschedule.

He said there would be presentations scheduled in front of the council and the Mobile County Commission in the coming weeks. Bostwick added that BayFest would make other announcements. Those would include “something we’ve never done in 21 years,” he said.

A ribbon cutting on the hotel project is slated for August of next year.