|By Bob Gary Jr., Chattanooga Times/Free Press, Tenn.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Nov. 13, 2004 - Hixson should soon have its own Country, thanks to a Chattanooga developer.
Hiren Desai, executive vice president and chief operating officer for 3H Group Hotels, said his company is building a Country Inn and Suites hotel between Highway 153 and Hamill Road.
He said the $5 million lodging facility will include 81 guest rooms, a three-bay meeting room, an indoor swimming pool and should be open by July. He said 3H's eight hotels, six of which are in Chattanooga, will gross about $12 million this year.
"We see Hixson as an emerging market," he said. "There's DuPont, a lot of TVA business over there, the new (Oasis) office park, soccer fields, the new Wal-Mart center and the new Target center."
Mr. Desai said growth created downtown by the 21st Century Waterfront Project will "flow toward the Hixson area" as well.
"Hixson will become more a part of Chattanooga," he said.
That's fine with Hixson resident Nancy Davidson, who said the area could stand at least one more restaurant.
"I was hoping it was a Cracker Barrel" under construction, said Mrs. Davidson. She said she and her husband, Bob, are retired and have lived in Hixson for seven years.
"I love open spaces, but I don't have any objection" to growth, she said. "The older we get, the less we like to go away from Hixson for services. We're trying to change our doctors to (Memorial) North Park (Hospital). We'd be thrilled to see Northgate Mall grow.
"My only concern is that there's some sort of overall view or plan, so it won't look like Brainerd Road," she said.
Jeff Pfitzer, director of capital planning for the city, said there is a plan for Hamill Road. The Oasis development, the new Hixson Sports Barn, a Hampton Inn and Mr. Desai's work in progress are all located just off the sometimes undulating two-lane route.
"This is on our short list of major road improvement projects we're working on right now," he said. "The plan is to reconstruct that section of Hamill (between 153 and Hixson Pike) and bring it up to city standards," probably with two lanes sandwiching a turn lane.
Mr. Pfitzer said the design phase of the project has just begun. A construction start date has not yet been set, he said.
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