Developer seeking lease to build hotel near Dalton Convention Center

After decades of suggestions and proposals for improving the area around the Dalton Convention Center, Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock says he has been in talks with a Ringgold developer for a hotel on land near the center on Dug Gap Mountain.

Mock told members of the City Council about the talks during a work session on Wednesday. He would not disclose the developer's name.

“I was approached at a wedding at the convention center,” Mock said. “One of the attendees asked why don’t we have a hotel up at the convention center. I told him nobody would build one, and he said, ‘Well, I will.’ We threw it out there and he has stayed in touch.

“This morning, he said that his company is ready to do something and they would like a copy of a lease to move forward,” Mock said.

Mock said the developer has been contacted by the Hyatt Hotel Corp., which has 633 properties in the United States and Canada, according to the company’s website.

“They want to come and visit and will come visit after they see a tentative lease for the property,” Mock said. “They are pretty serious at this point and would like to get started.”

Mock said he informed Whitfield County Administrator Mark Gibson in the last month of the interest from the developer, and Gibson has made county commissioners aware. Mock said he and City Attorney Gandi Vaughn will work through the City of Dalton Building Authority on the terms of a lease.

The convention center receives funding from both the city and county governments. An independent authority oversees operations and usage of the facility with members of the authority appointed by both the county commissioners and the City Council. The land upon which the convention center is located and the land immediately around it is deeded to the City of Dalton Building Authority.

County Commissioner Harold Brooker said he is anxious to see if, and how, the project proceeds.

“We know a little bit about it, but we don’t know a whole lot about it,” Brooker said. “We will have to get involved at some point because we own half the property up there. But I have heard this kind of talk since the trade center was originally opened. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and we will see what happens.”

Mock said the talks have included a hotel with 125 to 150 rooms with a rooftop restaurant and bar overlooking the city.

“I don’t want to name names yet. This is like so many other prospective good things to come to Dalton,” Mock said. “Some of them don’t come to fruition. We will announce that once something is signed. It is not something we want to keep behind closed doors. It is good news if it happens and it is a good effort if it doesn’t. We’re still in the very early stages.”

Dalton City Council member Denise Woods said the council members need to be more closely involved in future talks.

“Unless I have missed something, I think we have had only one meeting as mayor and council and I think we were given some proposed plans from the prior administration,” Woods said. “I think this is too big of a project to have just the mayor knowing all the details.”

Looking to the other council members, she asked, “Do you guys know any details?”

“Denise, that’s why we are having this meeting,” Mock answered. “You have all the information I have right now. I just want you to be aware that we are going to pursue it. It’s not like we are trying to hide anything from you. I just want to get it out there. I just want you to be aware that it is something on the radar. That’s all this meeting is about — get it on the radar. I just want to keep you guys abreast and it is in the wind.”

In the lone piece of business in a called meeting following the work session, council members voted 5-0 to approve a contract between the city and Dalton Public Schools for the Dalton Police Department to provide six school resource officers for the 2019-20 school year, up from five.

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