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Aug. 31--A Florence, S.C.-based hotel development and management firm intends to start building the first of two hotels on Whiskey Road in Sep?tember.

Construction on a 95-room Holiday Inn Express and Suites is projected to start in mid- to late September on a narrow stretch of land at Whiskey Road and Stratford Drive in Aiken County, said Ashok Patel, the chief executive officer of Naman Hotels.

The 5.5-acre parcel, which is also designated for a 93-room extended-stay hotel, is just down the street from Aiken Exchange and the Aiken Mall.

The Aiken City Council passed an ordinance in December to annex the property into city limits after administrative and traffic conditions were met, City Planning Director Ed Evans said.

Hotel traffic will be directed to a driveway that will connect both buildings and won't directly spill onto Whiskey Road, Evans said.

Both hotels will be four stories, with the Holiday Inn Express about 60,000 square feet and Staybridge Suites about 75,000 square feet, Patel said. He expects work on the Staybridge to begin in about six months.

Both hotels, which will include swimming pools and small meeting rooms, should take about a year to finish and will each employ about 40 hospitality workers, he said.

Patel declined to discuss the project costs.

Naman Hotels has been in the Aiken market for nearly 20 years and operated the former Holiday Inn Express on Col?ony Parkway and Whiskey Road before it was converted to a Clarion Inn & Suites about 1 1/2 years ago, Patel said.

"The city is growing," he said. "Com?pa?nies are coming in. We see there would be a need for a hotel like that."

Naman Hotels was established about 30 years ago, and its portfolio includes 11 hotels in North and South Carolina.

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