|By Jenny Kane, The Daily Times,
Farmington, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 17, 2012 --FARMINGTON -- It's only a matter of time before you can vacation in Shiprock.
The Shiprock Chapter approved a 25-year lease in September for the construction of a 50-room hotel and an adjacent restaurant, Chapter Vice President Donald Benally said Monday.
And, yes, there will be a pool.
The hotel will be the only one in Shiprock, which has struggled for years to attract visitors because it has no lodging.
The town, located at the center of a web of tribal monuments and parks, has acted as a stopover for tourists -- but rarely an overnight one.
"We've been waiting for 40 years (for a hotel)," Benally said.
The hotel and restaurant are planned for the south end of Shiprock, on Ayani Neez Boulevard, near the Subway.
The chapter approved the business' proposed construction on Sept. 15, after 43 of 47 present chapter members favored the development.
Rong An Chen, owner of Mikasa Japanese Cuisine in Farmington, is the businessman behind the development in Shiprock.
Chen used to own two restaurants in Shiprock, where he lived for seven years. He does not currently own any businesses in Shiprock.
"They need a space for people to stay after they visit Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, and the Four Corners Monument," Chen said.
Construction is not likely to begin for another year, Chen said, because he needs to reconnect with investors. Four of his five original investors backed out because of a two-year long wait for the lease
"It's going to be a lot of headache," said Chen, who expects the project to cost about $2.8 million.
The hotel and restaurant both will be leased from the Navajo Nation, with the possibility of two additional 25-year leases after review by the Navajo Nation.
"They do have a lot of conferences in Farmington. Maybe we can bring some of them here," said Randy Sells, director and manager of the Regional Business Development Office in Shiprock.
"If we have tourists here ... we'll try to keep the tourists here," Sells said.
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