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Hotel complex planned for Tapawingo

By MICHAEL MALIK

The same developer that owns Wabash Landing is looking to add two more hotels nearby in West Lafayette.

Tapawingo Drive Partners, LLC, set up by Sheehan Development, plans to build a six-story building that will house two hotels near Tapawingo Drive and State Street.

The hotel complex would be the first development built along the new extension of Tapawingo Drive since it was opened in June.

To help defray the costs of replacing the poor soil at the proposed site, the developer is asking the city for a 10-year tax abatement on the estimated $31 million project. How much that would equal in potential tax savings for the company wasn't immediately available Tuesday.

The West Lafayette Economic Development Commission will meet Monday to vote whether to recommend the abatement to the city council. The West Lafayette City Council would have the final say.

Jo Wade, president of the Lafayette-West Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau, said there are about 12 weekends each year when it's nearly impossible to find a hotel room in Tippecanoe County. The proposed hotel complex would help meet that demand, she said.

The hotels, Wade said, will likely do well because they are both associated with Marriott, which is a brand recognized by travelers nationally.

Construction wouldn't begin on the 261-room hotel complex until September 2008 and wouldn't finish until December 2009.

The rooms would be divided between two hotels -- 151 rooms for a Spring Hill Suites and 110 rooms for a Fairfield Inn & Suites.

Once completed, the hotels would employ about 55 people, according to the company's tax abatement application.

Betina Cochran is general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn, located across State Street in Wabash Landing. She said she thinks there is a demand for another hotel in the area and isn't worried about a little competition.

"On average, we sell out five to six days a week from February till November," Cochran said.

Josh Andrew, the city's development director, said the new hotel is a positive thing for the city.

Even though the new hotels would not be a part of Wabash Landing, Andrew said, the value of the land nearby has increased. When the city purchased the land for Wabash Landing nearly 10 years ago, Andrew said, one square foot cost about $4. The same square foot is now worth about $19, he said.

Jimmy Curtis Jr., manager/owner of Tapawingo Drive Partners, LLC, said the site seemed ideal for a hotel because it's a gateway into West Lafayette.

"You can't get a better site."

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