|By David Woodfill, The Tribune, Mesa,
Ariz.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 14, 2008 - A developer wants to build the first hotel serving Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
Mesa officials said the 95-room Comfort Suites at the southeast corner of Power and Elliot roads would be a major step forward for the airport and help the city retain tourists and their valuable tax dollars.
Four out of six hotel projects approved by the city in recent years have yet to begin construction, but city officials are confident the Gateway hotel is more than a shimmering dream on the distant horizon.
Scot Rigby, Gateway-area economic development project manager, said it will be immediately successful as the only hotel serving the airport.
He pointed out that another hotel, Western Legacy Suites, is already under way at Warner and Power roads in Gilbert.
"If that one can go up, I don't see a reason why this one couldn't go across the street and be functional," he said.
Developer George Gilbert -- doing business under the name The Commons LLC -- said the hotel will be built within a year. He offered no additional details.
Robert Brinton, Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau president, said several planned hotels have won city approval but have yet to be built because developers are simply staking claim to areas of the city while waiting for better economic times before starting construction.
Although he supports the Gateway hotel's approval, Brinton said the organization would like to see larger and higher-end hotels in Mesa.
"This isn't the level of a hotel that is equal to, for example, the Hyatt Place (at Mesa Riverview)," he said.
He's specifically concerned the hotel may be too small to justify a full-time sales director to ensure it is constantly filled with visitors.
The four-floor hotel is planned as part of a 151,680-square-foot shopping center called The Commons Lifestyle Center, which will go before the City Council Aug. 25.
The Commons will feature restaurants and shops laid out similar to a traditional main street.
Two roads that will feed vehicle traffic and pedestrians from Elliot and Power roads will lead to a central roundabout in front of the hotel.
"It's very pedestrian oriented," said Jennifer Gniffke, a city planner assigned to review the project.
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