By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
City officials are working together to get things moving for a developer who wants to build two new hotels in Meridian. This comes just two days after Mayor Percy Bland announced another hotel development. Bland said on Tuesday that an additional plan is in the works for a new hotel, unrelated to the one recently announced by John Tampa of Ascent Hospitality Management Co.
Tampa, who first announced his plans in September, told the Meridian City Council at a work session on Thursday that he is moving ahead with his plans to build a Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites; a Marriott TownePlace Suites, an office building and two restaurants on a 16-acre site off of 1-20 near Cracker Barrel in Meridian.
He has asked the city to pledge about $400,000 in water and sewer work at the site; he will build an access road that will be turned over to the city after its completion. As of Thursday, Tampa was still negotiating with a neighboring landowner for property that will be used for the access road and right of way.
John McClure, Community Development director, told the council that Tampa is trying to do everything right. He wants to build a 60-foot right-of-way and construct the road to city's standards with curbs, sewer and lights, McClure said.
"So you can not only get people here to Mr. Tampa's company but also make some of this contiguous property developable as well," McClure said. "This is a win-win for all the people involved."
Tampa told the council that he was comfortable in the community and would like to do something downtown. In a lighter moment, Ward One Councilman George Thomas jokingly asked Tampa if he would like to buy a high-rise hotel downtown, referring to the city-owned historic Threefoot building.
Tampa has said that the projects will bring more than 90 temporary jobs during the construction of all projects for approximately 24 months; it will create 43 permanent jobs by the end of 2014; with 36 more jobs between 2014 and 2016. Tampa also estimates the projects will bring approximately $167,000 in property taxes annually and generate sales tax of approximately $630,000 annually.
Another hotel project is in the works for Meridian as well, according to Bland, who said Dr. Bryce Turnage, a local physician, is partnering with David Majure to build a hotel near I-20 off Frontage Road.
"We are glad to have this coming to us," Bland said.
Bland said the proposed 68-room hotel will be Meridian's first extended stay hotel. Many rooms will come equipped with kitchenettes, Bland said.
"This will be good for people who need to stay in Meridian for 18 days or longer," Bland said.
There are currently 25 hotels in Meridian and Lauderdale County.