There was a grand announcement Thursday when hotel developer David Hunt was introduced to the Warren County community during a meeting with Industrial Development Board members and other officials.
Hunt announced he would not be building just one hotel in McMinnville. Now his plans are to build two! Yes, two hotels!
“I met with Marriott officials three weeks ago in Franklin and I really haven’t said much about this until now,” Hunt said on Thursday. “The plans are to build a second hotel, a Marriott Fairfield, on the same property and probably face the hotels or build them at an angle. We do have the rights to both brands and we plan on having a Hilton and a Marriott at that spot in the next five years.”
The Hilton that Hunt referred to will be a Hampton Inn and he plans to have that open in 2019. The location is on Sparta Street across from Saint Thomas River Park at the site of the old hospital. Hunt said the build cycle for the three-story, 74-room hotel is nine to 14 months.
Hunt, of Hunt Properties in Jackson, said one early barrier will be getting plan approval from the state fire marshal. He said this is required before construction begins. Hunt would like to start construction this year, although he says that might get pushed back to early 2019.
“The state fire marshal does a plan review before you can get started and the office is really running behind right now,” said Hunt. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s so much building going on in Tennessee right now, especially in Nashville.”
Hunt says the timetable for the second hotel will depend on occupancy rate of the first. He said if the Hampton Inn opens and has an 80 to 85 percent occupancy rate in its first year then he can proceed with plans for the Marriott. A best-case scenario would have the Marriott opening in 2021. It would also be a three-story unit with approximately 75 rooms.
There’s also a gushing river of excitement surrounding the retail hub Hunt plans to develop around the hotels. He said he is planning to have two restaurants that are flanked by other retail. He didn’t give any names, but said, “The big national chains want to follow the flag of Hilton,” which he says in the No. 1 hotel brand in the world.
Looking at two of Hunt’s other hotel developments in Tennessee, in Pulaski and Fayetteville, one of them has a Buffalo Wild Wings next door. The other has a Perkins.
Hunt said neither of his hotels will have a bar. When asked about how much he will charge for room rates, Hunt joked, “As much as I can. I’m a capitalist.”
He said his rooms in Fayetteville average $115 to $117 a night, and the average is $120 to $122 in Pulaski. Hunt said he would not jack up rates should McMinnville have special events that bring waves of people to town.
“To me, that’s not being a good community partner,” said Hunt.
Since he has started building hotels, Hunt said he gets calls almost weekly from officials in communities like McMinnville that are desperately seeking a new hotel. He said hotels are very expensive and especially challenging in towns with a population below 15,000. “Your chance of success is much tighter than in a big town,” Hunt said.
McMinnville had an estimated population of 13,662 as of July 1, 2017, according to the U.S. Census. At that same time, Warren County had an estimated population of 40,651. The county has a median household income of $36,245.
As for employment, Hunt said the Hampton Inn would have 25 to 30 employees, depending on occupancy. He said when both hotels are complete they would share employees and have a combined workforce of 40 to 45. He said it will be a cost savings to have one general manager to run both hotels, as well as one maintenance person that can do repairs at both properties.
Several people in attendance said it will be nice to have hotels with room doors that don’t open into the parking lot. It was pointed out some companies don’t permit their employees to stay in such hotels when they’re traveling on business due to security concerns.
New owner For Kidd Ford?
It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Terry Kidd and his dealership, Kidd Ford, drove into our hearts and parked in our community. It seems like only yesterday I was writing the story about Terry buying what had been Willmore Ford on Manchester Highway.
Now there’s widespread speculation the relationship is coming to an end. Word on the street is Kidd Ford is in the process of being sold and new ownership is on the way.
I was unable to get anyone to talk on the record about this unfolding development, but I did get a comment from an anonymous source deep inside the Kidd Ford inner circle.
With all the talk surrounding the White House and everything going on in Washington, I’m extremely reluctant to use the term “anonymous source.” That reluctance aside, I’m hearing a deal is well in the works for new ownership at Kidd Ford. A formal announcement could be coming as early as this week.
Being a proud supporter of Ford, particularly the great folks at Kidd Ford, my first reaction to this news was, “Nooooooo!” But my reaction is not justified, according to my super-secret source, who tells me not all change is bad and this change could very well end up being positive.
As a habitual optimist, I’m going to support that statement and believe this will end up being gravy for the biscuit of Warren County. I’m told this potential new owner has two other well-established Ford dealerships and there’s always strength in numbers.
I’ll provide more information as it becomes available if a change in ownership does in fact become finalized at Kidd Ford.
Yummers! Deli Opening this week
If you love mouth-watering deli sandwiches that have you drooling for fresh meats and cheeses, Sam’s Deli is opening this week on Smithville Highway behind Sherwin-Williams.
Samantha Hunsberger is the owner and perhaps her biggest fan is husband Bryan who loves to eat deli sandwiches. Samanthan and Bryan have lived in Tennessee for six years and in McMinnville for two.
“The one thing I miss about the Northeast is the food. That's it,” said Bryan, who is originally from the Philadelphia area. “This is a much nicer area and a great place to raise a family.”
They have a 10-acre farm and have settled into the Warren County community with their two young boys. Now Samantha is ready to serve a slice of her great-tasting food that will be served on bread from the famous Amarosa Bakery.
Bryan says his favorite sandwich is Sam’s Hot Roast Beef. He said most folks in this area don’t understand the attraction to hot roast beef but it will be a pleaser for those who try it.
There’s also a meatball hoagie, spicy chicken, and various other deli meat combinations. Bryan says it’s high-quality meat that will be sliced on the premises.
Soups, desserts, drinks and other items will also be available. The soups will be appreciated as the weather turns cooler.
I think Sam’s Deli has a great location in the same building as Sherwin-Williams on The Strip. It’s in the back portion in the spot that was Sunbeam Bakery years ago. To get there, just drive between Sherwin-Williams and the old Captain D’s. It’s also easily accessible from Northgate Drive. There's seating inside for 16.
Opening day has been set for this Wednesday with the grand opening scheduled this Saturday. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday thru Friday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It’s closed Monday and Tuesday. The phone number (931) 414-4200.
I’m often asked about the businesses that are available in our growing Amish community of Warren County. The Amish are great people, but they are not exactly geared toward newspaper publicity so I haven’t been able to do much to promote their businesses. They see me coming and run the other way, which I guess is a natural reaction.
On Friday, I did receive a list of the Amish businesses in our area so I thought it would be appropriate to publish this list. Please note, there are no sales on Sundays and Christian holidays. For people who would like to support Amish businesses, this list should help. It is printed below.
Henry Hostetler Produce 2641 Bates Hill Rd., McMinnville
Noah H. Gingerich Knives, belts, holsters 2773 Bates Hill Rd., McMinnville
Joni H. Gingerich Produce 4682 Petigap Rd., McMinnville
Andy Gingerich Swings, produce 4681 Petigap Rd., McMinnville
Daniel L. Zook Clock repair, goat milk soap 4444 Petigap Rd., McMinnville
Levi Hershberger Tack shop, belts 4137 Ivy Bluff Trail, Morrison
David Byler Sr. Produce 4196 Ivy Bluff Trail, Morrison
David Byler Sr. Produce 4216 Ivy Bluff Trail, Morrison
Herman Gingerich Produce, saw mill 152 Rose Ln., Morrison
Jacob Gingerich Solid wood furniture 523 Rose Ln., Morrison
Enos Hostetler Jams, jellies, canned goods 218 Maggart Ln., Morrison
Eli J.L Gingerich Cedar furniture, produce 765 Smoot Rd., Morrison
Amos Hershberger Produce, farrier 380 Teeters Rd., Morrison
John Gingerich Produce, gliders 2123 Smoot Rd. Morrison
Levi Miller Clock repair, baskets, candy 2785 Jacksboro Rd. Morrison
Sam L. Miller Cedar chests, goat milk soap 2795 Jacksboro Rd., Morrison
Mose Yoder Upholstery 2720 Jacksboro Rd. Morrison
Menno S. Hostetler Saw mill 2693 Jacksboro Rd., Morrison
Andy Stutzman Twisted cedar furniture 1925 Doyle Frazier Rd., Morrison
Emanuel Gingerich Lawn furniture, produce 4006 Doyle Frazier Rd., Morrison
Henry Gingerich Produce, hat maker 7644 Shelbyville Rd., Morrison
Peter Byler Produce 2596 Pleasant Hill Rd., McMinnville
Menno E. Hostetler Saddle tree 520 RG Kirby Rd., McMinnville
Andy Byler Produce 2596 Pleasant Hill Rd., McMinnville
Emanuel Byler Farrier 2616 Pleasant Hill Rd., McMinnville
Eli J. Gingerich Produce 2848 Pleasant Hill Rd., McMinnville
Jacob P. Gingerich Saddle bag, halter, produce 6847 Summitville Rd., Morrison
Delete - Merge UpTourism hits High note
Tennessee is known for its music and its mojo. Because of those attributes, and many more, people want to come here to visit.
The state has released its latest tourism figures that show Tennessee reached a new all-time high of $20.7 billion in tourism dollars in 2017, up 6.3 percent from the previous year.
The numbers were soaring here in Warren County as well where it’s reported visitors spent $24.4 million in 2017. That’s an increase of 6.9 percent.
That money benefits more than the businesses visited by tourists. The money spent in Warren County generated $1.02 million in local tax revenue, according to the state.
In addition, a total of 163 Warren countians are employed in tourism-related fields, according to the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
Some folks may not realize this but tourism has become Tennessee's second biggest industry. The surge in visitors continues to fuel the state economy.
All 95 Tennessee counties saw more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures in the economic impact of tourism. Five counties exceeded $1 billion in travel expenditures, including Davidson ($6.5 billion), Shelby ($3.5 billion), Sevier ($2.2 billion), Hamilton ($1.1 billion), and Knox ($1.09 billion).
A record 113.6 million person stays also were recorded in 2017, according to U.S. Travel. Those figures tie in with the lead story of today’s column, that being two new hotels coming to McMinnville.
That’s all folks
It’s fair week and business news is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind. The big news is who will get in a fistfight at The Himalaya. Phone in your tips at 473-2191.