Committee seeks feasibility study for hotel at Dalton Convention Center

Dalton and Whitfield County officials say they are interested in the possibility of a hotel at the Dalton Convention Center, but say they don't want to rush to a decision.

On Tuesday, an ad hoc committee of City Administrator Jason Parker, County Administrator Mark Gibson, convention center director Margaret Thigpen, convention center authority board chairman Mike Kinsey, City Council member Annalee Harlan and county commission member Harold Brooker agreed to ask the convention center authority board to seek a request for proposals for a feasibility study for a hotel when the board meets later this month.

"I believe a study should look at whether a hotel makes economic sense," said Harlan. "And if it does, what type of hotel we should go after, not just the size but the price point."

Thigpen said the convention center had gotten a feasibility study back in 2006 that recommended a hotel. But she said so much has changed in the local economy that that study is outdated.

Hotelier and developer John Q. Hammons and the convention center authority board signed a letter of intent in 2008 to build a full-service Embassy Suites hotel at the convention center. Hammons pulled out of the deal later that year after the departure of convention center director Rick Tanner and after then-Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed a bill that would have created tax credits for tourism-related projects such as the hotel.

In August of this year, Mayor Dennis Mock told City Council members he had been in talks with a Ringgold developer for a hotel on land near the convention center on Dug Gap Mountain. Mock would not disclose the developer's name.

Parker said after the city received the initial inquiry regarding the hotel, City Council members agreed the convention center authority board should handle any talks about a hotel. He said city officials suggested the convention center authority board form a committee with representatives from the authority board, the city and the county. The convention center authority board created the committee last month.

"There have been talks since the convention center opened (in 1991) of having a hotel," said Harlan. "It has been a subject that has been revisited over and over."

Harlan said if officials do decide to pursue a hotel it will be bid out.

Thigpen said she did not know how much the 2006 feasibility study cost. She said a 2017 study commissioned by officials in Cartersville to study the feasibility of a hotel next to its convention center cost approximately $20,000.

The convention center authority board is scheduled to meet on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 8 a.m. at the convention center.

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