A cold rain and temperatures in the 40s failed to dampen blue-sky optimism as ground was ceremonially broken Friday morning for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel to be built adjacent to The Center for Rural Development.
The four-story complex will have 105 guest rooms, 2,300 square feet of banquet, meeting and pre-function space, a 400-square-foot boardroom, Bistro restaurant and lounge, indoor pool, fitness center, 24-hour market and business center.
The redesigned state-of-the-art Courtyard lobby features Starbucks Coffee, media pods with televisions, charging stations and wired and wireless Internet connections. Also, a community table, brand-signature interactive flat screen “Go-Board” with touch-screen technology featuring weather, local attractions, events, restaurants and national news.
“This hotel complex is opportunity ... a new day for Somerset,” said Congressman Hal Rogers, principal speaker at the event held in the glass-enclosed lobby at The Center. Despite inclement weather that forced the silver-shoveled groundbreaking indoors, Rogers said “ ... it is appropriate doing this thing on the first day of spring. This complex opens up a new potential for tourism ... it is a chance to break the mold ... to bring new ideas to Somerset.
“Today, we broaden our horizon with this incredible facility. We stand at the threshold of a brand-new day,” said Rogers.
However, the congressman cautioned: “The Center does not guarantee anything ... the hotel doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s up to you to make it happen,” he challenged a lobby crowded with movers and shakers in this community.
Rogers reminded that The Center for Rural Development was designed to serve as epicenter of innovation and leadership in southern Kentucky. He said the new venture (hotel) will open the door to countless opportunities for our region. Rogers was the brainchild behind The Center that opened in 1996.
Lonnie Lawson, president and CEO of The Center, said he worked closely on the project with LinGate Hospitality, the Owensboro developer that will build, own and manage the hotel as a Marriott franchise. Glenn Higdon, president and CEO, and his wife, Mary; Claude Bacon, vice president; and Ken Correll, vice president of Development and Technology, all of LinGate, were present for the groundbreaking ceremony.
“We are fortunate to work with LinGate Hospitality to build this state-of-the-art facility,” Lawson commented. “The addition of a hotel on our property will allow us to attract more conferences, conventions and larger specialized events to this region.”
“It’s a great day for us!” declared Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. “It humbles us to have a corporation like Marriott believe in us ... this is a great time.”
“Congressman Rogers’ dream has come true,” Girdler declared, calling Rogers a “visionary.”
Dan Price, deputy judge-executive for Pulaski County, represented scheduled speaker Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley who did not attend the ceremony. Price reflected on the unprecedented growth of Pulaski County, due, he said “ ... to bold leadership.”
“We are a Kentucky Company and honored to develop another hotel in the state,” said LinGate’s Higdon. He praised Lawson and The Center staff for being “ ... first-class partner from the beginning, and we are excited about our future together.”
Courtyard by Marriott is a well-established, highly respected brand in the upper and mid-scale service lodging market segment. The latest generation Courtyard prototype has evolved to address standards for contemporary business travelers.
The hotel will be located on the north parking lot and separated 40 feet from The Center structure. The north parking lot will be closed once construction starts on the hotel this spring. Completion is projected late next spring or summer.