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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 04/14/14 (New Hotel Plan, Golf Course Promotion, Seasonal Employees)

City Hears of New Hotel Plan
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY
April 15, 2014

A new limited service hotel is planned for south Chillicothe. Representatives of Ehrhardt Hospitality revealed their plans during the Chillicothe City Council meeting Monday evening in the council chambers at City Hall. The company built and opened the Comfort Inn in Chillicothe four years ago, and their proposed new facility would be constructed near the existing Comfort Inn.

Scott Ehrhardt, of Campbell, Missouri, and his father, Spike Ehrhardt, representing Ehrhardt Hospitality declined to reveal the brand name of the proposed hotel but said it most likely would be a three-story structure, similar to Comfort Inn. "We do have a quality operation and we bring expertise to the hospitality industry," Scott Ehrhardt said. "We'd be excited to bring another product to town. The product we intend to bring is probably a level par or a little above what we currently have. It will be a quality, limited service hotel that is associated with some of the brands we do currently operate."

The Ehrhardts operate five different brands - Candlewood Suites, Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Super 8 and Comfort Inn - in Missouri, Oklahoma and Illinois. The company recently opened Candlewood Suites in St. Joseph and is completing a Holiday Inn Express nearby.

Chillicothe's Comfort Inn has 62 rooms and around 2,000 square-feet of meeting space. The proposed hotel is projected to have 70 rooms, an indoor pool, exercise room and a breakfast area. There would not be a restaurant nor would there be a significant amount of meeting space.

He said the new establishment is estimated to have between 25 and 30 employees, with about half of them being full-time employees and half part-time. The Ehrhardts said that although the general contractor would not be from Chillicothe, the company plans to use as many local subcontractors and as much local materials as possible.

The hotel matter was discussed at the city council meeting because of the company's request to use Chapter 100 Bonds, in an amount not to exceed $6.5 million to finance the costs of the project. After hearing the company's presentation and remarks by their attorney and by Robert Cowherd, the city's contracted city attorney, the council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the project. Cowherd stated that the city's resolution is the project's first step. Notices will then need to sent to the taxing entities and a public hearing will be held. After the public hearing, the city would then vote whether to approve the issuance of bonds. The city of Chillicothe issued similar Chapter 100 Bonds late last year for a new business in Chillicothe, IBC North America. The measure permits cities to give certain tax incentives and abatements. "In this case it would be real estate tax incentive that would be given," Cowherd stated.

This property is located within the TIF zone (located in south Chillicothe). Terry Rumery, economic developer for Chillicothe, said that the request is for tax abatement on the building and the request is similar to what was provided for Comfort Inn. Because the project would be located within the TIF District, neither the city nor the county would receive property taxes on the building until the expiration of the TIF. The real estate payment in lieu of taxes to the TIF District would be 100 percent abated for the first 10 years. The real estate taxes payable to the TIF would be 50 percent abated for the next 10 years or through the life of the TIF (whichever comes first), with the remaining 50 percent to be used to pay off the TIF bonds.

Council Promotes One at Golf Course; Hires 86 Seasonal Employees
During an executive session of the council, Dani Moore, a seasonal clubhouse staffer, has been promoted to the full time position of Marketing Director at Green Hills Golf Course. Josh Norris, Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, presented a list of 86 persons to be hired as seasonal employees in the parks' department and at Chilli Bay Water Park. The 2014 seasonal employees were approved unanimously (5-0) by the council. These include 45 lifeguards, 21 other employees and concession workers at the water park, along with concession workers at other city parks. Two groundskeepers were also hired, and three were added to the seasonal mowing crew.

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