By Roy J. Eaton | Wise County Messenger
The new $14 million Marriott Hotel at the Decatur Civic Center moved another step toward reality Monday with the signing of the final financial and legal documents between Gatehouse Hotels, the Decatur Economic Development Corp. and the city of Decatur.
ON THE DOTTED LINE – From left, Decatur Mayor Martin Woodruff, Gatehouse President Marty Collins and Decatur EDC Board Vice President Jay Davidson sign financial and legal documents related to the Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites to be built next to the Decatur Civic Center. Messenger photo by Joe Duty
The 107-room hotel will be built on the east parking lot of the Civic Center and will operate under Marriott’s Fairfield Inn and Suites brand. It will include a pool, a large outdoor activity court and a small conference room. It will connect to the Civic Center through a breezeway.
Civic Center Manager Lori Sherwood is planning a late September groundbreaking for the hotel.
“This will enable us to host multi-day conferences at the Civic Center, and many groups prefer to use the Marriott brand hotels,” Sherwood said.
The senior lender for the project is the First State Bank of Decatur. The Decatur EDC will contribute $2.5 to $2.7 million toward the project, and the city has proposed what is known as a “380 agreement” with Gatehouse to rebate sales and hotel occupancy taxes generated by the hotel. The hotel itself will be on the city tax rolls.
EDC Director Thom Lambert said the EDC share would be funded through a $1.5 million tax-exempt private debt placement and available cash. The EDC money will pay for water, sanitary sewer, drainage, parking and other infrastructure improvements to the site. Lambert said that contracts between the EDC and the hotel developer have a provision for re-payment to the EDC for the expenditures on infrastructure.
A natural gas pipeline across the property is now being moved, one of the requirements before the city can issue a final plat for the site, according to Planning Director Dedra Ragland.
An electrical line must also be moved, but Ragland said that should not delay approval of the final plans. She said Gatehouse had submitted preliminary plans to the city staff for review, and they had been returned to the hotel company for modifications.
“I haven’t heard from them since we returned the plans for their comments,” Ragland said Monday.
A recent staff turnover in the planning department could also affect timing of the groundbreaking. Ragland said an outside firm has been hired to review plans following the resignation of a key staff member.
“They are supposed to be able to turn the plans around within 10 days,” she said. Final plats and plans should be completed and presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the city council in two months.