Dalton businessman Kasey Carpenter said some delays in his plans to build a hotel in the downtown business district have proven to be a blessing in disguise, giving him the opportunity to expand on those plans.
The hotel, named The Carpentry, is planned for the site of a former bank building at the corner of the 200 block of West Cuyler Street opposite of both of Carpenter’s restaurants, The Oakwood Cafe and Cherokee Brewing + Pizza Company. Carpenter had originally planned to renovate the bank building, but he said as he got further into planning he found it made more sense to tear the building down and construct a new building. The bank that stood at that site was the Community and Southern Bank.
"Back in the day, it was the First Union Bank," said Carpenter. "It changed a few times, but that was the final name."
"Once we tore that building down, we had to go back to the drawing board," Carpenter said. "At the end of the day, we are planning to invest even more. Our new plan has another 12 rooms. We are now looking at 42 or 43 rooms. It will add even more value to downtown. I don't have the numbers in front to me, but I think we were originally looking at about a $2.5 million investment, and now it's about $4.5 million."
The hotel will be a "boutique" hotel, smaller and more intimate with an eye on design, with more expensive furnishings and decorations.
Carpenter said he is partnering with Steve Herndon, a Dalton businessman who owns and operates hotels across the Southeast, on the project.
Carpenter said he is working with architect Gregg Sims to finalize the plans and hopes to put the project out for bid soon.
"Construction is not moving forward as quickly as I had hoped, but things are still moving forward," he said.
Because the project is in the downtown tax allocation district (TAD), it is eligible for TAD financing. TADs freeze the value at which a property can be taxed for general revenue. Taxes collected on additional value created by improvements to the property are dedicated to pay for infrastructure, public artwork or other amenities to attract a developer or developers to that area.
In December 2018, Carpenter reached an agreement with city officials that could have reimbursed him up to 20% of the value of the project. He would have been paid only if the assessed value of the property rose and only if the project was completed on or before Dec. 31, 2019.
Since Carpenter did not finish the hotel by that date, the deal has expired and Carpenter will have to apply again for a new deal, said city of Dalton Chief Financial Officer Cindy Jackson,
"We'll probably reapply, with the same basic parameters," said Carpenter. "As I said, we will be investing even more money that we were planning on."
Some City Council members said Monday that if a new deal does come before the council they could support it.
"This is still good for downtown, still good for the city," said Mayor David Pennington.
"My thoughts are that Kasey has done a lot of good things for the community," said City Council member Derek Waugh. "This will be good for the community, and if he needs to come back before the council for a new deal, I'm all for it."