Ground broken on Hampton Inn

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2003

About 75 people joined local elected officials, economic developers and real estate developers Friday to officially kick off construction of the $4.9 million Hampton Inn project.

"We've been welcomed so much in Troy," said hotel developer Tom Hunt. "I am sure you'll be proud of what we'll be doing here."

The ceremony didn't slow down work on the hotel Hunt said would be the new prototype for the Hampton Inn brand.

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"It's an updated look with 82 rooms, a 900 square-foot meeting room and a board roomand it still contains the things that have made the brand successful," he said.

The Hotel Group, Hunt's company with partner Howard Porter, owns four other hotels. The company has a $3,8 million

mortgage with Troy Bank & Trust on the property.

"I guarantee we'll do our best to treat our customers right and keep them coming back to Troy," he told the crowd assembled for the ceremonies.

The hotel anchors a much larger development on the former Wal-Mart site. Troy Plaza Shopping Center is more of a subdivision than a typical shopping center, developer Burton Green said.

"We have a lot of work to do now that the hotel is under construction," he said, pointing to a site map. He said he and partner Howard Carr recently completed the acquisition of the old BP gas station along with another parcel of land within the development.

"Now that the hotel is under construction, hopefully the overall project will be up in the next six to eight months - there's a lot of engineering and ground work to do," Carr said.

The development includes a strip mall, the hotel and other retail establishments.

Alex Whaley, II, the hotel's general contractor said The Hotel Group wanted the hotel in operation around the first of the year.

"They want to open the doors in January or early February," he said, noting his company, Whaley Construction, didn't foresee any problems making that timetable.

Gaylard is positive about the hotel's impact and dispels any comments that Troy might not be able to support another hotel.

"Troy can support another hotel. As we continue to growand traffic counts on Hwy. 231 get higher and higher, it justifies another hotel," she said. Gaylard said occupancy rate studies also support the need for additional rooms in the city.

"It's going to be nice not to send those tax dollars and tourist dollars out of county," she said. During major events, visitors have had to be sent to Ozark to find rooms, Gaylard said.

In addition to Gaylard, Hunt and Green, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford addressed the crowd, telling them that teamwork was the reason this development was under way after first taking the chance at levity.

"It is a great day in Troy. Of course, I was just satisfied when (the old Wal-Mart building) was taken down," he said to the audience's amusement. Lunsford called the abandoned building an "eyesore" for the city.

"Nothing can be done without a wonderful working relationship with everyone involved," he said, taking a moment to give the city council credit for their willingness to work toward the project. "This is the first announcement of hopefully several more to come," he said.