$8M project will include hotel, plans to expand

Framed walls have started to spring up for a new 102-room hotel just off Pike Street and County House Lane, and developers still are eying an early winter opening.

MPH Inc. is developing an $8 million Comfort Suites property to complement its neighboring Fairfield Inn and Suites, which opened April 17, 2012, said Alan Hardway, vice president of MPH Hotels Inc., when it opens in December or January.

Jeff Beaver, a 1976 graduate of Frontier High School, has been working for three years to organize an annual event for his classmates and other alumni. With each passing year, the list of those invited to the event grows to include more classes. This year’s annual class reunion for classes 1969 to 1985 will be June 14-15 at the Comfort Inn on Pike Street.

Beaver said he would welcome a new hotel in the area to help make arrangements for the graduates who travel to town.

“We need more of the facilities to have things like this,” Beaver said. “You are few and far between as far as just having the Lafayette, (Shrine Club) and Comfort Inn. You can find small meeting rooms. To hold two to 300, that’s all that’s available.”

“We chose the Comfort Suites brand because it does well with the leisure and corporate business traveler,” Hardway said.

For the leisure guest at Comfort Suites, features designed into the hotel include oversized rooms, a pullout sofa in every room and an expanded full hot breakfast. Business travelers might welcome the new hotel’s high-speed Internet, business center, printers in select rooms and an oversized desk sitting separate from the rest of the room, Hardway said.

MHP Hotels chose the site on Cherry Tree Lane because it sits off the road and the land was available. Hardway said the two hotels are the beginning phases of a plan to bring more retail and restaurants to that part of Pike Street, although he would not say what other businesses might join the new hotel.

“Another hotel would be nice,” Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jeri Knowlton said. “Many of the hotels are running at high occupancy right now because of the oil and gas play in the area. This will give us an opportunity to fill rooms with more leisure travelers.”

Oil and gas companies have been sending representatives to southeast Ohio to buy mineral rights and scout sites for possible drilling activities, trying to take advantage of the reserves trapped by the Marcellus Shale.

Despite wet, muddy conditions on the job site Friday, framers and carpenters were on site and building up studs to start outlining the second floor rooms.

“The end of this month, you are going to see a lot of progress, once we get all the framing in here and the subcontractors, too,” said Herb Collins, job superintendent.

Weather permitting, Collins said he also expects to see the structure under roof by the end of June.