Three hotels coming to fast-growing Athens
ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - Three new hotels are coming to Athens over the next few years. They will all be at exit 351 off of I-65.
Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks says this will accommodate more visitors as the city grows since it’s the second fastest-growing city in the state. “It’s just something that would not be maybe not critical for a lot of communities. But, I thought it was critical for ours and attractive to people as traveling on the Interstate so it’s something I’m excited about and I’m looking forward to the development and seeing the plans and seeing the dirt move.”
The hotels coming to Athens are the Home2 Suites Hilton, La Quinta Wyndham and Towneplace Marriott hotels.
The Home2 Suites Hilton has the most fleshed-out plan right now. It’s part of an incentive program between the developers and the city of Athens. He says this is a part of an incentive program where the city and developer will split the lodging tax 50/50. The lodging tax is the taxes people pay when they stay at hotels.
Mayor Marks says this is a priority. He says he wanted to bring in a Hilton hotel specifically because he thinks people are loyal to their hotels thanks to points programs that offer benefits and discounts - so getting branded hotels is crucial. They already have a Marriott and Holiday Inn properties at exit 351.
There are a few more months until they can break ground. The developers still have to get approval from the planning commission and the city council. The incentive package passed the city council unanimously in October.
La Quinta & Townplace
A La Quinta Wyndham and Townplace Marriott are now also heading to Athens according to the mayor. The mayor says they are considering incentive packages with these hotels as well but they’re too early in the process to tell.
Mayor Marks says Wyndham leaders made a request for an incentive package several months ago but haven’t followed up yet. The Townplace developers met with him to get resources on creating an incentive plan.
They mayor says this is the first time the city has built a new hotel in over a decade. “We have not built a new hotel at exit 351 in many years. And when people come in for ball tournaments and many other things, they end up going to Huntsville, Madison, Decatur because we don’t have room to accommodate. And it’s really encouraging to the economy.”
He says bringing in more sales tax dollars is important to him and his administration. He says that means more resources coming to the city, particularly to the fire and police department. 40% of their budget is funded by sales taxes.
When all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted, construction should take about 14 to 18 months according to the mayor.
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