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Hotel chain pulls out

Article Date: 
4 July, 2014 (All day)

While the hotel chain lined up to open doors in Morgan City has pulled out, city and county leaders are teaming up to revive interest in future hotel possibilities in Morgan County.
“The hotel is in a holding pattern,” said Ryan Hunter, economic development director with Better City, the city and county’s consultant.  “Marriott has pulled out, stepped away from the deal with the current developer.”
When hotel development didn’t proceed within a six-month time frame spelled out in a contract that Morgan City was involved with, the hotel chain pulled out of negotiations with a developer, said Morgan City Mayor Ray Little.
But Little is confident there is still a hotel in Morgan’s future.
“It is still a viable option and still a possibility,” Little said.
Past feasibility studies years ago during an economic downturn showed minimal financial gains for a hotel developer in the county, and Little believes a new feasibility study will show more favorable financials that could bring new opportunities.
The old hotel feasibility study didn’t consider the draw a redeveloped Como Springs could bring to the area, something a new feasibility study could include, Hunter said.  “It is a good time to refresh that study,” Hunter said.  “It could re-ignite the search for a hotel.”
The Morgan County Council agreed, approving a resolution allowing the city and county economic development consultant to seek a grant to fund a new feasibility study.
“If we don’t take the small steps to move forward, economic development will not come,” Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Kelley said.
“From our perspective, we want a hotel in here,” Morgan County Councilman Austin Turner said.  “I was hoping to sleep in it by now.”
The new study would allow Better City to woo a new developer and the chance at a nationally recognized hotel chain.
Little noted that the economy is now in better shape, developers has more money at hand, and people are travelling more.  Such conditions could combine for a more favorable environment for hotel development in Morgan County, he said.
The Morgan County Council voted Tuesday to allow Better City to apply for a federal grant.  Better City will package the grant application seeking funding for a hotel feasibility study with a request for predevelopment studies of a county industrial park near Morgan City.
Councilman Ned Mecham—the only county councilman to vote against applying for a grant—said he doesn’t believe current land owners of the area identified as a future industrial park are on board with such development proceeding.
Better City also expects the results of a full water engineering study of the Como Springs area in a few weeks.