|The Dominion Post, Morgantown,
W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 19, 2011--Like much of Morgantown this summer, Chestnut Street is under construction.
Next door to Dragonfly, The Chestnut Hotel, a 41-room hotel and conference area, is being built, and is expected to include suitestyle rooms with king-sized beds, while also providing a variety of activities that will be available on the hotel's roof.
"Multiple functions will be available on the rooftops with pools and spas, so people can be cool in the summer and hot in the winter," said Joe Panico, co-owner and developer of Manhattan Place, LLC. "There will also be an upscale restaurant on the roof, as well as the Dragonfly providing service to the hotel."
Panico said he has a specific style in mind for the hotel.
"The interior of the hotel will have a unique traditional and modern style that was a collaboration with my wife, Cathy Panico, and the Mills Group local architecture firm," Panico said. "It is a continual collaboration."
Initially, the plan was to build condominiums on the vacant lot. After consulting with local property owners about the hotel market, Panico said the focus of the plan changed.
"The economy turned, and out of that change, we spoke to people around who felt there was a nice niche in this idea."
Panico said that without his Manhattan Place coowner and good friend Tom Rice, this vision would not have taken place.
"This project couldn't be possible without Tom Rice," he said. "He became very friendly with the building's owner at the time, and it was agreed that he would sell it to [Rice], because he knew he would take care of the building.
"I have put together a successful team," Panico said. "The people you hire and sub out to, you rely on them to carry along.
"The challenge will be the management of the whole facility. It has to be done extremely well to be successful."
The building, Panico believes, was constructed in the 1930s.
"It is a really fabulous structure that was built at a time when labor and materials were cheap," Panico said. "To replicate this structure today, it would probably cost up to $7 million to $8 million I'd guess. This building has to be one of the first parking garages in Morgantown."
All in all, Panico believes there is only one way to take in what the hotel is soon to provide.
"How I sold the project to the [Morgantown] Planning Commission, to everybody, is simply by taking them up on the roof," Panico said. "It's the wow factor, more than anything, that we are trying to capitalize on."
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.
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