By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Construction is getting underway in Lavonia on a new Hampton Inn.
Municipal, business, and civic leaders came together Monday morning to break ground on the new motel located behind J Peters Restaurant and across from the Holiday Inn Express on Highway 17.
OM Ventures2, LLC Developers are constructing the new Hampton Inn.
The company also owns the Holiday Inn Express.
Co-owner Ritesh Shah said the area around Exit 173 on Interstate 85 is ripe for economic development.
” We like the location. Lavonia has been great to us and the tri-county area has been great for us,” Shah said. “We’re glad to be here and would not have done it anywhere else.”
Meanwhile, Lavonia Mayor Ralph Owens said it’s encouraging to see more new economic development.
” We’ve been anticipating this for months now and we’re happy to be at the groundbreaking today,” Owens said. “A lot of work went into this and we’re just excited about it.”
That excitement could also be seen on the face of Jay Pearson who owns the land the Hampton Inn will be constructed on.
Pearson has been working to develop the property and so far, has been able to get the new motel as well as a J Peters Restaurant constructed.
However, he said it was a struggle this time to find financing for the motel, but credits help from a local bank for keeping the project moving forward.
” When the market crashed, a lot of banks were left with half-finished hotels and motels,” Pearson said. “Now bank regulators don’t like the hospitality industry, So now it’s very difficult to get financing for new construction.”
But Pearson said after a long search that involved national and even international financial institutions, he was able to secure financing from a bank right around the corner.
“We had to really scramble around and we finally found Northeast Georgia Bank, which stepped up to the plate. So, we’re very proud to deal local with a local bank,” Pearson said.
Pearson also has plans to put in a seven-suite office park next to J Peters and he said the remaining three acres are already prepped for a large retailer, such as a grocery store or another restaurant.
Meantime, Shah said they hope to have the new Hampton Inn open by the fall of 2014.