Could Blair soon be home to two new hotels?
On Tuesday, the Blair Planning Commission approved a redevelopment plan for the Hayden Place redevelopment project solely to say the project is in conformance with the city's comprehensive plan.
The redevelopment plan includes a Holiday Inn Express hotel and convention center to be located at the northeast corner of the intersection of South 20th Street and Kellie Drive, directly east of South Highway 30, near Walmart.
The commission also approved a preliminary plat for East Ridge near U.S. Highway 30 and First Street for three lots, which would include an 80-room hotel and convention center as well as a drive through coffee shop and the potential for third business.
David Drew, attorney for Marie Gordon Investments, LLC, said his clients are against the project at Hayden Place. Marie Gordon Investments initially had a purchase agreement with SAI Properties V, the developer building the Holiday Inn Express, but it was terminated.
However, Marie Gordon's intention is still to put a hotel and convention center on that area across from Petro Mart.
“As a planning commission, I think your job is to say what is the best plan for the City of Blair,” Drew said. “I think if you look at the market and common sense says this city won't support two new hotels and two new conference centers.
“I think the big picture is where is the right place for a hotel and convention center,” he added.
Chairman Bob Boettcher disagreed.
“Part of our job, though, isn't to determine who does or doesn't have a purchase agreement with this land and we may find that both sites fit the criteria of the comprehensive plan,” he said. “If that's the case, it's not up to us as to who purchases what outside of what we're doing.”
“I want, as a planning commission, you to understand that, if you approve that, you very well could be killing the other development,” Drew said. “Should this be a race to the planning commission where it's first come, first serve or should it be what's the best option?”
SAI Properties V is seeking tax increment financing (TIF) for the hotel and convention center that would be near Walmart. The project would be completed in two phases and cost an estimated $7.6 million. The developer is seeking principal amounts of $970,000 for the hotel and $170,000 for the convention center.
The hotel is expected to be three stories and 38,000 to 45,000 square feet. The convention center would be 4,000 square feet. Construction on both facilities is expected to start in the spring and be completed in late 2021 or early 2022.
Heather Carver, attorney for SAI Properties V, said the project would not be feasible without TIF.
Still a third developer has shown interest in building a hotel in Blair.
Tim Stuart with Boulder Development of Denison, Iowa, told the Enterprise in July 2019 he was seeking to build a $3.6 million, 40-room hotel.
On Wednesday, Stuart said his company has looked at the triangular piece of property south of the roundabout that is being developed. He said he's also been contacted by the realtor involved in the property being developed by Marie Gordon Investments.
“A lot depends on how things shake. But are we interested in Blair, we certainly are. It's just a matter of how things fall,” Stuart said. “I think everyone would understand Blair doesn't need three hotel properties. The decision that would need to be made does it make sense to have two new properties or just one in Blair. That's where our thought process is right now.”