‘It’s going to happen’
LaGRANGE — After more than a decade of stalls and uncertainty, the downtown hotel project is finally moving forward, the developer told City Council on Tuesday.
Josh Chapman, president of the Carrollton-based Linco Development Company said the project “is coming out of the ground — it’s going to happen,” during a Council work session.
The design is almost complete, he said, and is awaiting final approval from the Marriott hotel chain, which he said will allow Paramount Hospitality to operate the hotel as a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.
“The next step is design approval,” Chapman said. The new hotel’s design differs from Marriott’s typical prototype design, but mirrors many of the features the company is rolling out across the country, he said.
Chapman also said Linco is about two weeks into an estimated three week appraisal process with United Community Bank of Blairsville, which is slated to finance the project. Once the final appraisal has been completed, the bank is slated to commit to funding the 87-room, four-story hotel.
Bobby Carmichael, executive director of the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, which is involved in the project, said the appraisal process includes testing for potential hazards that could present problems during demolition.
“One of the things we have to do is an environmental study on the site,” Carmichael said. “It’s part of the appraisal process. They have to make sure there are no environmental problems.”
He added that if the appraisal process goes smoothly, demolition could begin by June 1, although he cautioned that the project has been pushed back in the past.
Based on initial renderings by the Atlanta-based architectural firm Phillips Partnership, the hotel would feature a pedestrian entrance off Lafayette Square and a vehicle entrance between the hotel and a 200-space parking deck that would sit behind the hotel. A pool and fire pit would also be featured between the hotel and parking deck, although the pool would be shielded by a privacy fence.
The hotel’s architects worked with Skip Smith, a LaGrange-based architect whose designs include Sweetland Amphitheatre and the new District 4 Public Health building on the south end of downtown Main Street. The new hotel is designed to adhere to the established architectural features of downtown LaGrange and reflect local character, Chapman, the developer, said.
There is also retail space that would sit on the side of the hotel closest to First Baptist Church on the Square, Chapman explained.
The city of LaGrange purchased the former Mansour’s department store property in 2010 for $1.2 million and deeded it to the DLDA for hotel development. The city has also provided more than $320,000 toward the cost of demolishing the building.
The parking deck will be owned by the city, but is being financed with a $4 million grant from the Callaway Foundation.
Taxes from the hotel are projected to provide the city with about $175,000 per year in revenue over the next 20 years, according to city officials. The hotel is expected to employ about 30 people.