It’s been nearly a year-and-a-half since a developer broke ground on a new Holiday Inn Express in south Ottawa and soon after that groundbreaking, construction on the project was brought to a halt. Now it appears the project is back on track.
The Ottawa City Commission is scheduled to hear an update Monday at the weekly study session and sources say construction could begin later this month.
The developer, Mike Works, was not available Friday to comment, but all indication are the project is ready to finally move forward.
In 2017, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved a 3 percent rebate of the transient guest tax money generated by the project for a period of 10 years. The total amount returned to the hotel would not exceed $600,000. The county currently assesses a 6 percent transient guest tax which is used to promote tourism in the county and for the Visitor’s Information Center in Ottawa. In an earlier story about the project, Works said the tax rebate was a big factor in them choosing Ottawa.
“There are several layers of taxes and incentives we were able to tap into, but the truth is if we wouldn’t have been able to tap into them it would not have worked,” he said. “Even with the incentives, and it’s a nice incentive package, with all the extra things we are doing for the city like paving King Street and creating a deceleration lane into the Arby’s, we are well over a $1 million extra than what we normally spend on a project like this.”
Arby’s opened in April and the addition of a hotel would be a nice addition to the south side of Ottawa Works said.
“What you are allowing us to do is to bring a high class, top of the line franchise that is missing in your market to your market,” Works said. It something we can’t do without the help of the county or the city. Neither can another developer because it does not financially make sense.”
When he described the project to the Franklin County Commission in 2017, Works described the scope of the project.
He said the hotel would have 80 rooms and be a prototype four-story interior corridor hotel with a 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot meeting room. Works said in his proposal, the hotel should generate between $100,000 to $120,000 yearly to the transient guest tax fund.
Works said the hotel could bring in an extra 30,000 visitors to the area per year.
“It is people otherwise aren’t staying here now,” he said. “That is a big benefit to the sales tax.”
Ottawa Community Development Director Wynndee Lee said in an earlier story having another reason for motorists to stop in Ottawa is the goal.
“It gives us a new opportunity to entice travelers off I-35,” she said. “We haven’t had a new hotel here in quite some time. This one is taller so the profile is good and being able to redevelop that area is significant. It will create a new gateway and have a connection to the trail that will bring people in.”
Lee said another positive is that the developed street will give a safer access from 23rd Street with a reverse access from King Street.
Works said the city was great to work with through the process and all the issues and hurdles have been overcome. With the hotel planning to open in March of next year, Works said they will be hiring 12-15 people and that process will begin at the end of this year.
He added that Holiday Inn Express is a great fit for a town the size of Ottawa because it appeals to all different types of travelers.
“When you think of brands that are recognizable, Holiday Inn Express is a very recognizable brand,” he said. “It’s nice in small towns because it works for both the business guy that comes in a suit and can be having breakfast next to a guy in a hard hat.”