|By Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 18, 2010--Construction has stopped at the site of two hotels on Gaffney Drive, with no announced plans of when the work will resume.
Site work began this summer on a 118-room Town Plaza Suites Hotel, an adjacent 106-room Fairfield Inn and a restaurant on a seven-acre parcel off Gaffney Drive, but it abruptly stopped several weeks ago.
Hemisphere Management, Rochester, is the developer for the two Marriott-brand hotels. City officials have expressed concern for the project this week when asked about the status, mentioning that they heard rumors that the developer was experiencing some kind of financing problems and that's why work was halted.
Contacted Wednesday night, Tarpan Patel, Hemisphere's vice president, said that "it's an ongoing project" and denied it was having problems with financing. But when asked why the work halted and when it would resume, he declined to comment before hanging up on a reporter.
Earlier this year, Mr. Patel said his firm was "all set from our side" to proceed, adding it was waiting for the city to make sure sewer infrastructure was in place. The city is about to begin eminent domain proceedings for an intersection at nearby Stateway Plaza and a sewer easement.
However, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said earlier this week that the eminent domain issue with the plaza had nothing to do with whatever was happening with Hemisphere Management's plans for the two hotels.
While the Gaffney Drive site sits idle, a short distance away construction crews are busily working on another hotel project by a different developer.
A 132-room Hilton Garden Inn, near Interstate 81, dominates the landscape, with the framework of several cement stories ascending from the ground. That project, being developed by Alexandria Bay developer Patrick M. Donegan, started earlier this fall and after the other hotels. The Hilton Garden Inn, which will include a 4,000-square-foot conference center, is slated to open in the spring.
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