New hotel construction ongoing

0
300

GREENFIELD — The newest hotel chain in Greenfield could open its doors late this year or early 2019, the hotel’s developer says.

Work has been underway at the future site of Fairfield Inn and Suites, located on the corner of William Way and Martindale Drive, since fall 2017. An extended winter and subzero temperatures cut back construction by about two months, Mohan Reddyreddy said by phone Thursday.

Reddyreddy, who also owns the Holiday Inn Express and Suites that neighbors Fairfield Inn, is the president and CEO of Star Group, which will operate the Fairfield hotel under Star Hotels Inc. He said the facility was most recently expected to open in late fall or early winter of this year. Now, Reddyreddy hopes the location will be ready to welcome guests by late this year or early 2019.

The Marriott brand hotel, featuring a modern design, will offer guests a business center, fitness center, complimentary breakfast, free high-speed internet and an indoor pool, according to an October 2017 Daily Reporter article. The business aims to hire about 35 people.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Star Hotels first purchased the land in 2016, and presented the plan for the 74-room hotel to the city early that year. Reddyreddy said the demand for hotel rooms grew at Holiday Inn over a few years leading up to 2016, so he knew the area needed another comparable hotel.

Additionally, employees of Elanco, located north of Interstate 70, only stay with Marriott, Reddyreddy said. He wanted the chain to come to Greenfield so out-of-town workers wouldn’t have to stay in Indianapolis. The hotel’s location is also easily accessible off the highway, he added.

The Fairfield Inn will give Greenfield its ninth hotel — seven of them located off Interstate 70. Brigette Cook Jones, executive director of Hancock County Tourism, said from January to May of this year, the county’s 5 percent innkeepers tax has collected $11,147 more in revenue than those months in 2017. Jones said the increased revenue means more people stayed at local hotels.

George Langston, a Hancock County Tourism Commission member and bookkeeper at the Hancock County Visitors Center, said he’s expecting the gross amount of the innkeepers tax for June to be over $40,000 — keeping in line with April and May’s numbers. Langston said the summer months of June, July and August are the busiest times for hotel guests in Greenfield.

After Langston was appointed to the commission in January, he talked to as many Greenfield hotel managers and owners as he could about their businesses. They told him the hotels are in an ideal spot in Greenfield, luring in travelers driving on I-70 between Indianapolis and Richmond.

In addition to guests who decide to stay in Greenfield over Indianapolis, Jones said Hancock County also sees overflow of business and leisure travelers from nearby Henry and Shelby counties.

However, Reddyreddy said he’s seen a 3 to 4 percent drop in guests this year compared to last at the Holiday Inn. He opposed the decision to raise the innkeepers tax from 4 percent to 5 percent in 2015 to help fund a new 4-H fairgrounds center, a project that has since stalled. According to an innkeepers tax receipt provided at the July tourism commission meeting, the fairgrounds fund had $224,565 as of May. Reddyreddy said he wants the commission to be more transparent with hotel representatives on how revenue from the tax is used for tourism-related initiatives.

Jones said for the first time last year Hancock County Tourism paid to have each county hotel listed in the Indiana Travel Guide, which is produced by the Indiana Department of Tourism. She said the “go-to” state tourism publication is available at rest stops, visitor centers and destination marketing organizations. It’ll also be available on the department’s website.

“This was one way we could directly support each business,” Jones wrote in an email. “In previous years, only a few of our hotels were listed — so this increased our visibility in the Central Indiana section with several options.”

The tourism office bought full-page advertisements in print and media, such as the Travel Indiana magazine, promoting Hancock County as a tourist destination. They also recently launched a county tourism website, visitinhancock.org, and continues to reach followers on a Facebook page.

The tourism commission is slated to meet next at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 in the City Council Chambers, 10 S. State St. in Greenfield.