Land sold to hotel builder
Construction on a new Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Versailles should begin within the next 30 days, according to the president of H&W Management Company. "We have a contractor and we're within about 30 days of pushing dirt," said Don Howard. He said the hotel project will take a year to complete. A final hurdle before starting construction was cleared when Versailles Hotel Company, LLC, (Howard, managing partner), acquired 2.3758 acres at 365 Commerce Drive and an adjoining .9447-acre (detention/storm drainage) lot from Versailles Land Group, LLC, (Billy Blair, member), for $500,000, according to a deed filed in the Woodford County clerk's office. "Nothing's changed (in terms of the plans for the hotel)," said Howard. "We've just been waiting to close on the site." The four-story Holiday Inn Express near the U.S. 60 Bypass in Versailles will have 82 rooms and a meeting space. During an interview in March of last year, Howard said the proximity of Versailles to what he described as "demand generators," including Keeneland and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System headquarters, made the location financially viable for a small hotel. "A hotel should work there," said Howard during a Monday morning interview. "So yes, we're excited about coming in and being the people to do that." It has taken a year-and-a-half for the sale to be finalized, but he said, "We're still excited about" coming to Versailles. A hotel should also help Versailles Land Group attract national and regional restaurants, and other businesses to the 10-acre commercial site (formerly occupied by the Versailles Center) on the U.S. 60 Bypass at Lexington Road. "You need the first (investor) to break ground to really get a development off the ground," said Mayor Brian Traugott on Tuesday morning. "So that'll be good for that ... entry-corner of Versailles because a hotel is a pretty good anchor in small development of that size." Having a hotel in town will also bolster local tourism efforts by giving visitors "a traditional hotel" option in Versailles, he said. "We don't lose them to Frankfort or Lexington." And people who stay in Versailles will spend money here too, said Traugott. "They're going to eat dinner here. They're going to eat breakfast here. They're going to buy gas..." Based in Lexington, H&W Management Company is a regional hotel development and management company, which started in 1985. The company manages nine hotels in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, with a Holiday Inn Express in Versailles and two other hotels planned this year and next, according to its website.