THURSDAY UPDATE: Ground has officially been broken at the new Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn. The new downtown hotel will stand on the former site of the News Sentinel and is looking to open in fall 2018.

Nick Lakha, president of Paramount Hospitality Management, said Thursday he's excited for the opportunity Knoxville presents.

"There's a lot of good things going on in downtown Knoxville, particularly with Gay Street, Market Square, a lot of great restaurants, there's just been a lot of growth and we want to be a part of that," he said.

There is a trend of hotels being built in downtown Knoxville. Combining the future Marriott, the recently opened Tennessean and a future Hyatt Place, downtown will add 479 hotel rooms, an increase of 31.2 percent.

That doesn't even include a proposed hotel with 170 rooms at the site of the old state Supreme Court building on Locust Street.

President of Visit Knoxville Kim Bumpus said after the ground-breaking all of these new hotels are helping to build a stronger tourism industry.

"Our goal is to make Knoxville known around the world," said Bumpus. "And we are finally on the map as a premiere getaway destination because we have the hotels, we have the restaurants, we have the outdoor experiences and we have all the attractions that they're looking for."

PREVIOUS STORY: Groundbreaking on a new downtown hotel on the former site of the News Sentinel is set for Thursday morning.

A dual-branded hotel with a total of about 232 rooms will be built at State Street and Church Avenue. Dual-branded hotels have gained popularity with developers.

The nine-story project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2018. Batson-Cook Development Co. of Atlanta is the developer.

The newspaper occupied the space until it moved in 2002 to its current location off Western Avenue. The building then was torn down.

Several hotel projects are either planned or have just been completed downtown.

More: Old hotel gets new life

Dover Development and Bristol Development are proposing a hotel with some 170 rooms as part of a mixed-use development on the site of the old state Supreme Court building on Locust Street. Knoxville City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved selling the site to the developers.

More: Council hears about hotel on old court site

Dover also is in the midst of rehabbing the old Farragut Hotel on Gay Street.  It's envisioned to hold some 162 hotel rooms and suites, along with meeting rooms and a rooftop venue.

The hotel is set to open in the late summer or early fall of 2017.

More: Inside Knoxville's newest luxury hotel

This spring The Tennessean, billed as a luxury hotel, opened along World's Fair Park. It has 82 hotel rooms plus 12 upscale condominiums.

The nightly rate for the rooms will begin at about $230, but prices will range as high as $3,000 for the Governor's Suite.

The 12 condos at The Tennessean range from $1.2 to $1.5 million for 1,800 to 2,300 square feet.

The Tennessean, which formerly served as administrative offices for the state of Tennessee, sits near the base of the Sunsphere.