City approves another extension for hotel

By Corene Brisendine

City commissioners Tuesday night approved a three-month extension for Noble Hospitality on finalizing the purchase of Lot 9 in the south end of the Downtown Redevelopment.

Colin Noble, owner of Noble Hospitality, asked for the extension to close the deal on a piece of property owned by the city.

Noble has said the plot, on the corner of Third Street and Yuma Street behind Blue Earth Plaza, is going to be the site of a Holiday Inn Express.

Derrick Roberson, a lawyer from Arthur-Green representing Noble, told commissioners that Noble was asking for an extension because of trouble with securing a small business loan.

Roberson said the loan was delayed because negations among Noble, Holiday Inn and the SBA were interrupted with the government shutdown in October.

Noble told The Mercury during a break at the meeting that the funds are available and he is just waiting for formal approval.

Noble said his banker, Terry Harts, was on hand to tell commissioners, “We’ve got the money.” However, commissioners did not ask for Harts to speak.

Commissioner Rich Jankovich, who is senior vice president at Commerce Bank, said during the meeting that he was confident that Noble would have the money.

Jankovich also said he understood what Noble was going through with the government shutdown.

However, other commissioners were worried that Noble would return in February to ask for another extension.

Roberson told commissioners that Noble was hopeful that the deal would be closed by the end of November.

Noble agreed to pay $1,500 to the city as a penalty for not closing the deal on time, but that amount will be adjusted if the deal is done before the three months is up.

Roberson said they should close within two or three weeks.

Noble also told The Mercury that the number of hotel rooms available in Manhattan had nothing to do with securing the loan.

Karen Hibbard, director of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in Manhattan, told commissioners during the Oct. 29 work session that hotel occupancy “appears to be going down due to the increased supply” of rooms.

She said that according to the Smith Travel Research survey for Manhattan, the average occupancy rate was at 58.2 percent through September.

However, the survey showed the cost per room was increasing.

She also said that Manhattan currently has 1,263 rooms available, but an additional 189 rooms will become available with the construction of more hotels in 2014.

Noble claimed Holiday Inn wanted to build another hotel in Manhattan with our without him.

“They have four or five others willing to build this hotel,” Noble said. “I was able to cool them from building 100 rooms down to 86. The same with Cottenwood.”

Noble said Cottenwood Suites, recently built and operated by Noble, is also owned by Holiday Inn.

He said Holiday Inn originally wanted two hotels with 100 rooms each, but Noble claimed he talked them down to smaller ones.

Noble now has until Feb. 13 to close the deal with the city.

* In other business, commissioners also voted 5-0 to approve the rezoning of a housing development off Scenic Drive.

A portion of Stone Pointe Townhomes development was altered. Instead of building townhomes throughout the entire development, an apartment for senior citizens was added to the proposal.

Commissioner Karen McCulloh didn’t think there was enough parking for the apartment complex because of the location.

She said that with the apartments being built on the west edge of town, the people living in the complex would need their own vehicles to go anywhere because there was no public transportation in that area.

However, McCulloh ultimately voted in favor of the rezoning.

* Commissioners also approved a zoning request to build a Pizza Ranch restaurant in front of Menard’s on McCall Road.

They approved it 5-0 without discussion or comment.

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