The Commerce Journal

December 27, 2011

Developer looks to turn former hotel into student housing

Former University Inn to be transformed into Lion’s Den

Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — Change has been a constant in Commerce over the past year, and it looks like 2012 will begin the same way. A developer has purchased the old University Inn on Highway 25/50 and is transforming it into hospitility-based student housing facility with 60 rooms, a coffee house, restaurant, billiards room and more.

“When the owners were trying to figure out what to do with the property, we basically looked around at some other college towns to see what was being done,” director of operations Bart Jetton said. “We’re aware that A&M-Commerce is still short on housing for students, so we thought ‘why don’t we take this great property that we have and find a niche to fill.’”

Already the coffee house, which serves Starbucks, is nearing completion and will open early next year. A restaurant, either a Mexican one or a family-style steakhouse, is in development.

The owner plans to add sand volleyball courts and a basketball court in the open courtyard area next to the swimming pool. The Lion’s Den will offer open mic nights, live bands and karaoke.

“The city and the college have been wonderful,” Jetton said. “I think we’re in the right place in the right time offering the right product to the student and to the parents. For underclassmen whose parents are paying for their lodging, it’s a place they can stay with security.”

For students used to A&M-Commerce residence halls, the Lion’s Den will be a different experience. The Lion’s Den will offer maid service twice a week, daily trash pickup, Wi-Fi, and full utilities.

Students don’t need to place a deposit on their rooms and can sign up to live at the Lion’s Den for as little as 30 days at time, according to Jetton. Freshman students who are required to live on campus can live at the Lion’s Den, according to Jetton, because after living in the same location for 30 days that location becomes the individual’s residence.

A&M-Commerce students who present a valid student I.D. will receive the discounted rate of between $400 and $450 per month based on double occupancy, all utilities paid.

Each room is furnished, but students will be allowed to bring in their own furniture if they want to, according to Jetton.

“We’re offering rooms at a rate that can pretty much equal or beat the lodging choices that the students have around town,” he said.

Jetton hopes to turn the Lion’s Den into a place where students and members of the Commerce community can interact, while focusing on A&M-Commerce students.

“This place will be the catalyst for communication,” he said.

To contact the Lions Den for more information, call 903-246-3174 or visit