April 11, 2012 10:12:15 AM
Columbus developer Mark Castleberry was granted a setback variance for an upcoming hotel project. At Tuesday's meeting of the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals, Castleberry, of Columbus Land Development, LLC., requested a setback variance from 35 feet for his new hotel franchise.
"This is for the proposed Hampton Inn franchise," Castleberry said. "This is a real franchise -- we hope to get started on construction in the fourth quarter of this year. I understand this setback is for safety purposes. We have a retaining wall for safety, so this is irrelevant. We are asking for a setback of five feet."
Columbus Building Official Kenny Wiegel said he received a few calls inquiring about Castleberry's appearance, but no one had opposed the request.
"I think you used common sense in this matter and I move to approve this request," Zoning Board member Kevin Stafford said.
The proposed 90-room Hampton Inn is one of three hotels planned on Castleberry's property on 18th Street North. An 85-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, with 16 suites, opened in April of last year. Castleberry said a 110-room Courtyard by Marriot, including a bistro and Starbucks coffee shop, will join the Fairfield Inn and the Hampton Inn on the property.
Hoping to attract a top-notch boutique hotel to be connected to the Trotter Convention Center, Castleberry also, in 2011, optioned the Gilmer Inn, a downtown hotel.
Property options are common between landowners and governmental or economic development entities, making way for economic development projects by securing an agreement from the owners of desired properties to sell at a fixed price within a specified amount of time.
Castleberry's option on the Gilmer Inn has lapsed.
"Originally, we wanted to place the Hampton Inn at the Gilmer site," Castleberry said. "Hilton, Inc., the Hampton Inn's parent company, came to town and decided it needed to placed at the 18 Street North site. So right now, there is no movement, at least from Castle Properties (at the Gilmer site)."
The fate of another Hampton Inn has changed, but work on its former site has restarted.
Wiegel said the hotel on Highway 45 next to Belk, once planned as a Hampton Inn franchise, is back under construction after being dormant for several months.
The site sat untouched for months after a proposed Hampton Inn chain decided to pull out, leaving the owners to pursue another chain.
"I stopped by the hotel (Monday) to see if there had been any movement on the construction," Wiegel said. "There was a crew working on the west end of the building. The new chain does not like the footprint of the (previously planned) Hampton Inn and the are making some adjustments such as adding several rooms. The foundation has been laid and they are working again. Albeit slow, there is some work going on there."
"We started this hotel as part of the Hampton Inn franchise," co-owner Sunny Sethi said in February. "But this is no longer going to be a Hampton Inn. I can not tell you what chain the hotel is going to be, yet." Sethi said funding had been secured for the new hotel and the franchise had been "locked-in."
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