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Hilton Garden Inn Groundbreaking

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By Lucky Kidd

 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Ground was broke Monday afternoon for the new Hilton Garden Inn to be built near 17th and Waldron. The new 112-unit hotel and conference center to be built by amber Hotel LLC is on property purchased from Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, and as reported last week will include an Old Chicago restaurant.

Hutchinson Reno County Chamber of Commerce President Debra Teufel acknowledged the fact the Chamber has a tendency to break ground on big projects on rather cold days. Teufel talked about the project, and the many people who had a role in making it happen.

“With city leaders, government leaders, non-profit leaders, private sector leaders all coming together to make good decisions, and it wouldn’t be possible without a lot of leaders with vision,” Teufel said.

The project is expected to provide a boost to tourism activities in the Hutchinson area, which Teufel said is a major economic driver for the local economy. During 2022, $105 million in economic activity was generated by tourism, which is near what the city had in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was accomplished despite the loss of 200 rooms in local hotel inventory following the closure of the Atrium Hotel, which remains vacant at this time. The conference space will fill a definite need for what had been a key component of local tourism activity, which Hutchinson at one time dominated but lost ground as other communities developed newer meeting spaces.

During the groundbreaking, Mayor Jon Richardson talked about the partnerships behind it, including the city’s role which includes an Industrial Revenue Bond authorization. Richardson said with partners coming together to make this $18 million dollar project a reality, it made sense for the city to be involved.

Part of the funding package involves use of transient guest tax funds, revenue that is generated through a “bed tax” from guests at lodging establishments in Hutchinson. First National Bank of Hutchinson played a major role in putting together the financing package, with Bank of the Plains also involved.

Amber Hotel Group’s Raji Sheth, who is involved in three other local hotel developments, noted the importance of The First’s involvement which actually pre-dated the inception of the project, with a bank official reaching out to him even as rumors of a possible project were just starting.

“If (the bank) had said no, this project would never have happened, because it’s very hard to get an outside bank to come in with such a high loan,” Sheth said.

He also pointed out he was ready to move forward on the project earlier, but getting to this point was delayed because only recently was he able to find engineers to design the project due to many of them not taking on new projects for a period of time.

Among those on hand for the groundbreaking were three other members of the Hutchinson City Council, local business leaders, Chamber representatives and members of Sheth’s family. 

Shovel turning at Hilton project (1)
Shovel turning at the Hilton Garden Inn Groundbreaking Oct. 30
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