Georgia-based developer, John Tampa, who is the president for Ascent Hospitality, is proposing a plan to build two new Marriott hotels off Interstate 20/59 and Highway 80 near Cracker Barrel restaurant. His plans also call for two new restaurants and office space.
For the project he's asking the city to provide up to $400,000 to build an access road. This money would also finance necessary water, sewer and lighting work.
"If we can put it all in under $400,000, it will be less. If it's more, Mr. Tampa will be responsible for whatever it is over $400,000," says City of Meridian Community Development Director, John McClure. He goes on to say that revenue generated from the overall project would far outweigh the initial cost to the city.
"The cost to the city would probably be funded through 'TIF' (Tax Increment Financing) so it wouldn't go against the general obligation of bonds for the city, and it would be paid for from new tax revenues that are generated by the project," says McClure.
In requesting the funds, the developer is guaranteeing city council members that the project is a solid investment.
"Definitely, and I think that we presented to the board a commitment letter. We currently have the financing ready for this project, and we are committed 120%," says Tampa.
According to Mayor Percy Bland, the city of Meridian rates third in the state for sales tax revenue because it's a hot spot for hotels. In considering this project, Bland says that he and the developer have agreed that locals will be hired to work during the construction phase and full-time after the facilities open.
Ultimately, Bland and McClure describe the project as a win-win situation for all involved.
"Absolutely," says McClure. "I think it fits into our overall strategy of trying to bring more people into the community, and have them spend money. While they're here, we get their money and this generates tax revenue and we only need to provide police and fire protection while they're here."
City officials are currently working with the developer to come up with a design and exact costs for the access road. Once that information is available, the city council will decide whether or not to provide the requested funding.
The project, is expected to create between 80 and 120 jobs during the construction phase, and 55 permanent jobs once open. One of the hotels will be a Fairfield Inn, and the other will be a Townplace Suites. Each hotel is set to have 80 rooms.