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Dec. 14--An Arkansas-based hotel group is finalizing plans to build a Marriott hotel in south Ames with former Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace as a partial owner.

G&G Hospitality Group, based in Little Rock, intends to build a Marriott Courtyard hotel on two lots on South 17th Street totaling about 165,000 square feet. The company purchased the properties in November, according to property records.

G&G chief development officer Hiren Jetha said the hotel is expected to have about 120 rooms and create between 50 and 60 part- and full-time jobs. The group expects to tap students from ISU to occupy a few of those positions.

"We would like to get more students involved, because I heard there's a hospitality program on the campus," he said.

Jetha said G&G is preparing to submit a request for bids early next year. The hotel could break ground sometime next March and begin operating in early 2019 if weather cooperates and construction goes to plan.

Wallace said he got involved with the project after a staffer from his charitable foundation introduced him to a G&G employee about a year ago. Wallace and the group first intended to open in the Dallas area, but couldn't find suitable land, so he and G&G began researching hotel rates in Ames.

Wallace believes the site location will benefit from being near the South Duff Avenue-U.S. Highway 30 interchange and a short distance from Dublin Bay and a cluster of restaurants off of South 16th Avenue.

The hotel would be the second business venture Wallace has joined in Ames in the past year, the other being a Wingstop franchise he would operate on South Duff Avenue. He said the Wingstop project is projected to begin construction Jan. 1 and open sometime in March, depending on if the city grants the necessary permits.

A hotel is a fairly large jump in business from a chicken wing restaurant, but Wallace said he is only holding a minority ownership stake in the hotel project and doesn't intend to play a role in day-to-day operations.

"I'm not saying I'm a hotel guy, and I know the ins and outs about hotels, I don't," he said. "What I'm doing with Wingstop is on a totally different scale. I'm just a silent partner when it comes to the hotel side of it. I'm just a voice for them."

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