|By Jenna Mink, The Daily News, Bowling
Green, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jul. 15, 2009--It was an early November morning and Vick Patel was awakened by disturbing news: His Cave City hotel had caught fire and was burning to the ground.
Eight months later, Patel is building another hotel on its ashes. Ground was broken Tuesday at the site of the new Sleep Inn & Suites off Mammoth Cave Street in Cave City.
The new hotel will take the place of Comfort Inn, which was destroyed after a short in an exhaust fan started a fire that spread throughout the building.
"We weren't going to let this bring us down," Patel said. "We were going to keep going and do it even better."
The $4 million hotel will measure 35,000 square feet and sit on 1.7 acres of land close to the Econo Lodge and a few restaurants.
Construction should start next week and it's expected to open next summer, Patel said.
After the fire, Patel -- who has been in the hotel business for about 15 years -- received about $2 million in insurance payments and decided to rebuild. Citizens First Bank is partnering with Patel to finance the rest of the project.
"We're very excited about this project," said B. Kent McBrayer, senior vice president of commercial lending at Citizens First. "This is a good ... project for this area. We hope it will bring more jobs."
About 40 people gathered at the site to watch Patel and others dig their shovels into the ground.
"This is a good sign of things to come, especially in this economy," said Brian Dale, executive director of the Cave City Convention Center.
Kenneth Simpson Construction Inc. in Franklin is building the hotel.
The company has constructed several hotels, banks and other commercial buildings, and is building another hotel in Franklin, president Kenneth Simpson said.
Sleep Inn & Suites will be an "upscale" hotel, Patel said, with 61 rooms, flat-screen televisions and an indoor swimming pool and fitness center.
"I believe Cave City needs this kind of thing," Patel said.
Nicole Randall, marketing director for Dinosaur World in Cave City, said she agrees.
"At Dinosaur World, I have people daily call us and ask where we recommend staying, and they request an upscale hotel," she said. "This is a tremendous asset to Cave City."
The new hotel will generate revenue for the tourism-based town, Cave City Mayor Bob Hunt said.
"Having a hotel go up is like getting a factory in town," because it generates revenue and brings employment opportunities, he said.
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