DALTON, Ga. — A trip to Albany in 2014 during his time in Leadership Georgia set Dalton businessman Kasey Carpenter on a path leading to his businesses in Dalton.
Carpenter, who owns The Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Brewing + Pizza Company in downtown and the Walnut Hill Farm wedding venue in the northern end of Whitfield County, hopes to soon have another venture downtown.
“I’ve always kind of had a dream, and when I visited a buddy in Albany, he had a really neat setup with a couple of restaurants, and then he bought a hotel,” Carpenter said. “I thought that was a great idea and originally thought of building a hotel over the top of Cherokee. But the property across the street came open.”
Now, Dalton’s state representative is one step closer to realizing his dream.
Carpenter said a new downtown hotel — The Carpentry — will open by the end of 2019. Described as a “boutique” hotel by Carpenter with 31 rooms, the hotel will be built where a former bank building sits unoccupied at the corner of the 200 block of West Cuyler Street opposite of both of Carpenter’s restaurants.
“It will be a high-end hotel, off of the interstate and within easy walking distance to the shops and restaurants downtown,” Carpenter said. “If you have family in town, you can put them up in a downtown atmosphere. It will be great for business visitors in our local industries.”
By being in the downtown tax allocation district (TAD), the project will likely receive the support of City Council members at their scheduled meeting on Monday at 6 p.m. in City Hall when they will consider a development agreement with Carpenter for the $2.3 million project.
The downtown TAD was created in 2015 by the City Council and includes 521 parcels. In effect, the tax revenues a local government collects inside a TAD are frozen at what the property inside the TAD was worth when it was created. That allows local governments to reach a deal with developers or property owners to dedicate any taxes collected as a result of an increase in the value of the property within the TAD, called an increment, to reimburse them for the cost of the infrastructure, land, buildings, public artwork or other amenities the owner creates to revitalize their property. If the tax revenues do not increase, the increments aren’t paid.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee (all council members are members), the council members received a recommendation from the TAD Committee to approve a 20 percent incremental financing agreement over a 15-year period. Members of the TAD Committee are Skeeter Pierce of the Dalton-Whitfield Joint Development Authority board, at-large member Ed Painter, city councilwoman Annalee Harlan and school board member Palmer Griffin.
The maximum in tax revenue that could be paid to The Carpentry LLC for the development during the 15-year period would be $476,000.
“He may get nothing,” said Dalton Chief Financial Officer Cindy Jackson. “We only give you the money if we have that money to give you through incremental growth. If the tax base doesn’t grow, it doesn’t pay anything.”
City Administrator Jason Parker said he believes it would be the first hotel in downtown in the “modern era” but did not know when the last hotel was operated there.
“I think that it will be a significant impact for downtown,” Parker said. “We know that hotel rooms around Dalton stay filled most of the year. This will give another destination with a boutique hotel with certain design features and typically a little more high end compared to some of the other hotels in the area.”
The TAD agreement would also have to be approved by the Dalton Board of Education and Whitfield County commissioners.
Several officials from the area — including County Manager Mark Gibson, Jackson, Dalton Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Theresa Perry and Carl Campbell, the vice president of economic development for the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce — reviewed the TAD application.