The small mound of earth was ready and waiting to feel the metallic blade of four shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony of Galion’s new Sleep Inn & Suites hotel Tuesday afternoon.
It’s a vision in waiting for the Keller family who have owned the 15-acre property at the corner of state Route 598 and Brandt Road for about 20 years, said David Keller, a spokesman for the family and the son of property owners Doyle and Barbara Keller.
The moment was “difficult to believe” for the family, he said. “It’s exciting.”
During his public remarks, he thanked the several involved parties for coming together to make the vision a reality. The family have entered into a 20-year land contract over three acres of the property with the owners, David said.
The developers and operators of the hotel are Jerry Hershberger of Winesburg Builders along with two other partners who were not identified. Winesburg Builders will also build the hotel, he said.
The $5.5 million project will bring a four-story hotel with 62 beds; a swimming pool; workout area; executive boardroom; a lobby with a breakfast area; and elevators, said Steve Kleinknecht, regional director of hotel development for Choice Hotels International, which own the Sleep Inn brand.
Rates for the hotel would range from $79 to $139 a night, according to previous Inquirer reporting.
The Rockville, Md.-based hotel chain were originally planning to have the hotel as Sleep Inn & MainStay suites, which would have included extended stay with 70-beds.
But the company decided to take a cautious approach and went with a model that is successful in small communities, Kleinknecht said.
Things went into motion when Mayor Tom O’Leary and Gary Frankhouse, executive director of the Crawford County Partnership for Education and Economic Development, approached Kleinknecht about bringing a hotel to the area. He introduced them to developers after a feasibility study completed early last year indicated a need for the hotel. Winesburg Builders, based in Millersburg, was selected as the hotel’s developer and operator.
At the ceremony, Frankhouse said the hotel will connect Galion with other parts of the country by serving as a venue for class reunions, weddings and other events.
“It really becomes a relationship here on this ground,” he said.
The project’s next step will have the city install the infrastructure — roadways, water and sewer — at the hotel site with costs at $635,000, O’Leary said.
The city approved a tax increment financing district in November to have 75 percent of the new property taxes from the hotel to pay off the infrastructure-related costs, he said, with the remainder going to Galion City Schools.
At Tuesday night’s regular council meeting, the city is expected to authorize the safety service director to advertise for contract bids to install the infrastructure over the next three weeks, O’Leary said.
The hotel is expected to be in operation by the end of the year.
“The vision is coming to reality,” Frankhouse said.
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.