Preliminary Plans For New Hotel Submitted To City

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Preliminary site plans for a new hotel have been submitted to the city of Athens, according to John Paszke, city code director.

Sandy and Jack Bortle of Athens have submitted revised plans for a Fairfield Inn & Suites. Last November, the Athens Board of Zoning Appeals denied a code variance that would have allowed a four-story building to be constructed on an East State Street site.

Jack Bortle said Monday that the revised plans are for a three-story building, and that he does not know of any variances that are needed.

Paszke said his office has not yet reviewed the plans for compliance with the zoning code, but will do so this week.

Bortle would not predict when construction will begin.

"We can't move until we have some approvals," Bortle said. If those approvals are received, it would take 10 to 14 months the build the hotel, he said.

The project will require site plan approval by the Athens Planning Commission. It's listed on the agenda of Thursday's commission meeting, but that is only to let the commission know that the project will be coming up for consideration, Paszke said. The project must be reviewed by various city departments before it comes to the commission.

The hotel is currently configured to have 89 rooms. Bortle said it would be a $7 million to $8 million project.

The site is a T-shaped piece of land located between McDonald’s and Go Mart on East State Street.

The original proposal was for a four-story hotel about 53 feet tall. The land is in a B-3 business zone, which has a limit of 3.5 stories and 45 feet of height. Fairfield Inn is a Mariott brand, and Bortle told the zoning board that Mariott was agreeable to foregoing the signage on the building, which would lower the height to 44.3 feet.

A motion was made to allow four stories, but require the building not to exceed 45 feet. The motion failed by a 3-2 vote, thus denying the variance.