|By Johnny Kampis, The Decatur Daily,
Ala.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 19, 2011--Developers plan to build a 75-room Fairfield Inn by Marriott hotel in Athens at Interstate 65 exit 351.
The Athens Planning Commission approved a site plan for the hotel at a meeting Tuesday night. The facility will be built on Athens-Limestone Lane next to Ruby Tuesday on a 2 1/4 -acre tract. As with other Fairfield Inn hotels, the building will have four floors. Athens city planner Mac Martin said the building will total 38,000 square feet. He said architectural plans have not been submitted yet.
"They're just taking the first step," Martin said.
The commission's approval is contingent on all city department heads signing off on the project. The city's Zoning Board of Adjustment must also agree at its meeting Thursday night to allow a variance on the height of the hotel because current zoning codes allow for only a two-story structure, said Rod Huffman, chairman of the Planning Commission.
Lisa Miller, director of operations for Omega Hotel Group, which will manage the property, said the Fairfield Inn will employ 20 to 25 people. The goal is to open the hotel in fall 2012. Preparation work has already begun on the site.
The facility will contain the normal features of a Fairfield Inn, Miller said, including an indoor pool with hot tub as well as a complimentary breakfast.
Omega Hotel Group and ownership company BCS Lodging also own the Holiday Inn Express and Suites at the same exit.
The companies decided the local market could support another hotel despite the struggling economy, Miller said.
"We feel that even though the economy has had its ups and downs that the Athens exit has maintained its business," she said.
Miller said the exit at Athens is one of the best locations for hotels and restaurants between Nashville and Birmingham.
"On I-65 it's the main draw," she said.
The Fairfield Inn will join nine other hotels near exit 351, and the existing ones "stay booked all the time," said Cayce Lee, assistant to the director for the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association.
Lee said space in Athens hotels is at a premium during special events such as the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention or baseball and softball tournaments hosted by the city's Parks and Recreation Department.
"We have to put people in hotel rooms in Madison and Decatur," she said.
(c)2011 The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.)
Visit The Decatur Daily (Decatur, Ala.) at www.decaturdaily.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services
To Learn More
About Your News Being Published on Hotel-Online Inquire Here