|By D.E. Smoot, Muskogee Phoenix,
Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 04,2012--Work could begin as early as next week on a new hotel in northwest Muskogee. Construction on a second new hotel is scheduled to start in February.
Planning commissioners on Tuesday approved the consolidation of several lots located along Fondulac Street at U.S. 69 into two tracts. If approved by city councilors next week, the hotels will be built on those parcels.
Vipul Patel, a commercial real estate developer spearheading the hotel projects, said the hotels will include a Muskogee Inn Suites and a second La Quinta Inn.
Patel said upon approval of the company's requests and permit applications, work will begin on the private-label hotel first. Muskogee Inn Suites, a $1.3 million project, will feature 30 rooms -- four suites, 13 rooms with king-size beds and another 13 with double queen-size beds.
The $4.8 million La Quinta Inn project, Patel said, will add another 69 rooms to Muskogee's nearly 980 existing hotel and motel rooms. Fifteen of those rooms will be suites and the rest will feature king- and queen-size accommodations.
Patel, who works with Lake Charles, La.-based Patel Construction Co., has been developing hotels and motels for about 12 years. Patel said the company and its business partners have properties in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.
The Muskogee Inn Suites and La Quinta Inn are his first projects in Muskogee and his third in Oklahoma. Patel said the company opened a La Quinta Inn in McAlester in 2010.
"Muskogee needs more hotel rooms," Patel said, citing industry reports upon which the company used to base its decision to build here. "We think this area is one of the best locations in Muskogee -- basically both locations are visible from the highway."
Patel said those studies show Muskogee's hotels and motels have an occupancy rate of just more than 70 percent. Assistant City Planner Tish Callahan said during special events, it's hard to find a vacancy at Muskogee's hotels and motels.
Treasure McKenzie, vice president of marketing and tourism for the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce, said the addition of new hotels in the city is good news.
"At any given time there are 500 to 1,000 people who don't live here eating and sleeping in Muskogee," McKenzie said. "Anytime we get new hotels, this gives visitors another choice in where they want to stay. When they (visitors) are staying here, we have a new stream of money flowing into the local economy."
In addition to what visitors spend for fuel, food or entertainment, travelers who book rooms also pay an 8 percent room tax. McKenzie said seven-eighths of the revenue generated by the tax is disbursed to the Chamber of Commerce for tourism promotion. The city keeps the rest.
Collections of the tax, which was approved by voters a year ago, began April 1. Disbursements to the Chamber of Commerce through November totaled almost $294,000.
Patel said the parcels where the hotels will be located were acquired during the past four months. The smaller site, consisting of 0.67 acres, was purchased for $145,000. The larger site, totaling 2.12 acres, was bought for $350,000. Both deals closed in November.
Patel said the company has plans to build other hotels, but declined to disclose where those projects might be located.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or email@example.com.
At a glance
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Muskogee Planning and Zoning Commission:
--Approved a request from Sandra Morris to consolidate Lots 9-16, Block 2, Turner Addition into two tracts for residential development.
--Approved a request from Vipul Patel to consolidate Lots 2-10, Block 22, College Heights Addition into one tract for commercial development.
--Approved a request from Vipul Patel to consolidate Lots 13-23 and Lots 26-38, Block 21, College Heights Addition into one tract for commercial development.
(c)2012 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)
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