|By Carol Biliczky, The Akron Beacon
Journal, OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sept. 12, 2011--The hotel to be built by the Kent State University Foundation will not be part of a national franchise after all.
Gene Finn, executive director of the foundation and vice president for institutional advancement at KSU, said board members decided it would be cheaper and better for the hotel to be a unique "boutique."
"From a financial standpoint it's going to be a lot better for us to go independent," he said. "Two or three years down the road, there's nothing to stop us from pursuing a [franchise] flag if we want to."
The foundation, the fund-raising arm for the university, will pick up virtually the entire $13 million tab for the 90- to 95-room hotel with indoor pool, lounge and cafe, and 14,000-square-foot conference center.
The foundation also spent $512,000 to buy three properties that will become the footprint of the hotel.
The Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center, as it will be called, will be part of a $100 million, public-private project in progress that aims to turn downtown Kent into a chic mecca for students, parents and residents. The revitalization will include businesses, restaurants and stores.
KSU's contribution will be to build a one-eighth-mile esplanade -- or brick and concrete walkway -- in a residential area between downtown and the west edge of campus.
The esplanade will enable pedestrians -- such as parents of students and visitors -- to walk easily between the revitalized area and the university.
As for the hotel, Finn said franchise fees would have been about $250,000 a year and the foundation would have had to sign a 10-year contract.
Instead of going that route, the foundation will hire a professional management firm with national reservation capabilities at less than half the cost, he said. The decision on whom to hire will be made in the next couple of months.
Finn also said officials wanted to include the KSU name on the marquee, which would have been impossible with a national chain.
Groundbreaking is planned for Sept. 19. The hotel should be finished in December 2012, the last of the pieces of the revitalization to be completed.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.
(c)2011 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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