|By Tracey McManus, The Augusta Chronicle,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 06, 2010 --Developers for the proposed Hyatt Hotel have not given up hope for their Reynolds Street project despite being four months behind on breaking ground.
"In today's economic climate, it's just really hard to get hotel financing," said Cortland Dusseau, a managing partner for Legacy Hospitality LLC. "It's just a matter of time."
Although the project was set to launch in June after the TEE center construction began, plans changed when banks closed their fists and obtaining loans for the hotel project became a bigger hurdle than expected.
Receiving financing for the $25 million project is the only variable preventing workers from breaking ground, Dusseau said.
Until then, workers cannot begin to demolish the old jail that sits on the site of the proposed hotel at the Ninth and Reynolds street intersection with the trade, exhibit and event center and its parking lot.
Developers have said 60 percent of the project's funding will come from bank loans. The rest will come from Legacy Hospitality's own capital and a federal tax credit through the U.S. Treasury Department.
Despite the delay, Dusseau said he is confident in the integrity of the project and the appeal for downtown Augusta.
The proposed eight-story, 139-room hotel is expected to take about a year to construct. It would employ 70 people.
Hotels nationwide are at 58.8 percent occupancies -- a 2.8 percent increase from this time last year, according to Smith Travel Research. In Atlanta, one of the top 25 travel markets, hotel occupancies jumped from 53.6 percent in 2009 to 58.8 percent this year.
With a hopeful eye for the hotel industry, Dusseau said everything is waiting on the banks.
"We're more optimistic than we have been," he said. "It's just very frustrating."
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