(WESTGATE) - An 80-room national franchise chain hotel is coming to Greene County, the first of what is anticipated to be several commercial developments near Interstate 69 and the WestGate at Crane Technology Park.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that at a special meeting of the Greene County Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday afternoon, the sale of about three acres of land to hotel developers, Mike and Debbie Hicks of rural Bedford, was approved for the construction of an 80-unit Comforts Suites Hotel.
Purchase price for the 2.9 acre site was approved at $10 in a resolution approved by the Redevelopment Commission - a step needed in the financing process, according to Mike Hicks, who attended the meeting.
Hicks attended the meeting and said the proposed $6.7 million three-story hotel will be a top quality facility.
"I think you'll see what is proposed in a quality upper middle market hotel. It will be an all suites hotel," Hicks stated.
The hotel will be located in Greene County at the intersection of U.S 231 and County Line Road (County Road 800S). The location is just south of the new I-69 and US 231 intersection.
The new hotel will have an anticipated employment of 20 jobs and will be situated near the proposed Battery Innovation Center, the WestGate Academy and Training Center, the WestGate@Crane Technology Park, and NSWC Crane.
The hotel owner anticipates that construction will begin within the next 90 days and construction time was estimated at 12 months.
"We will do our best to utilize local subcontractors. We did it in our French Lick hotel...That is a desire of ours regardless of where we are at. We hope to use the local independent business people and respect and appreciate the local economic impact," Hicks explained.
The hotel will feature an indoor pool with an adjoining hot tub, two meeting rooms, business center, free WIFI, fitness center, and a complimentary hot breakfast. Each suite will have a refrigerator, microwave, safe, 37" HD flat screen TV, and sofa bed. Two of the suites will have a private hot tub.
Speaking of the hotel's business center, Hicks said, "Any of the guests can use our computer. They can use our copier, fax machine and that will be adjacent to the front lobby."
Hicks Hotels - the Hicks' management company - will operate the hotel.
The couple also own and have operated the Comfort Suites in French Lick since 2009. The hotel was the recipient of Choice Hotels' Customer Service Award in 2011 and Choice Hotels "Rookie of Year" award in 2010.
The Greene County hotel will be an all-suites hotel that is similar to the Comfort Suites in French Lick.
Mike and Debbie Hicks also operate Group One, an independent property and casualty insurance agency, as well as Travel One, a full-service travel agency.
"The availability of new hotel facilities in the county promises to increase tourism opportunities for the Goose Pond and other local attractions. Because of the natural beauty of the Greene County area, additional hotel facilities in the County will help make the area an attractive stop for motor coach tours that might include Amish appreciation and craftsman demonstrations, Hicks stated.
The hotel will also provide lodging for "weddings, high school and family reunions, and sport leagues tournament participants", according to Hicks.
The hotel owner said rate-wise the facility will be competitive with the Bloomington and other area lodging facilities.
"There are a lot of things we can do (with rates) and our location is going to be excellent," he stressed. "I will be involved enough to make sure the service is very good and there will be clean rooms."
Hicks is optimistic that a name-brand restaurant will locate adjacent to his hotel facility along with a service station, convenience store and other retail businesses.
The hotel developer said WestGate Tech Park, I-69 Crane and the proposed Battery Innovation Center were all attractive factors in selecting a site for his second hotel complex.
"It's an excellent location," Hicks said in pointing out that configuration of the hotel on the site was made with a nearby restaurant in mind. "The feasibility study (that was conducted) was very strong that there was a need not only for WestGate, Crane, BIC, I-69 but for the community itself.
Hicks noted there should be a lot of opportunities for overnight stays for wedding receptions, funerals, sports teams, class reunions as well as business needs. The hotel will be 'tailor-made' for overnight stays for AAU basketball, Little League and softball teams.
He said an effort will be made to bring in customers who are doing business at Crane and the tech park and currently use lodging facilities in Bloomington.
"We have a product that will compete with Bloomington. It's an upper mid-market hotel," he said in noting the room rates have not yet been established.
He estimated the daily room rate Sunday through Thursday will be the low $80 to mid-$90 range. Weekends would be middle-$90s to about $110.
Hicks pointed out that of the rooms have a king or double queen size beds and all will have a pull out sofa which in some cases means the room would accommodate 6 people.
"We're very excited about it (the project)," Hicks said. "Not only am I excited about the hotel, but I'm excited about WestGate and everything that is going on there."
Commission president Hal Harp said, "It's the kind of facility we need there."
Fellow commission member and WestGate Authority member Brian Spark agreed and called the moving ahead with the hotel project "a wonderful thing".
"I'm glad to see you get the jump on it," Sparks told Hicks.
Commission member John Mensch, who also serves on the WestGate Authority, said he liked the idea of the hotel offering a well-equipped business center.
"It gives people, especially those coming to WestGate and Crane the amenities they need. It makes sense," he said.
The hotel is the first phase of a larger development plan for a 37-acre tract acquired by the Redevelopment Commission in 2010, that includes proposed sites for restaurants, convenience stores, and other commercial and retail businesses that will serve the future needs of the area, according to Greene County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Joan Bethell.
Developers interest in remaining sites can contact Bethell at 847-4500.
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