Thursday November 26th, 2015 2:05AM

Helen getting 84-room hotel with conference area

By Rob Moore Reporter
HELEN - The Helen City Commission received good news Tuesday: an 84-room hotel soon will begin construction in the city.<br /> <br /> Helen Building/Zoning Director Larry Krul said it is a busy time in the city with several business activities taking place.<br /> <br /> Krul said an Atlanta-based company plans to build a Holiday Inn Express with four floors, including a conference area. <br /> <br /> "They've got a drop-dead opening date of July 1, 2015, so we're helping them to be as expeditious as possible while still maintaining the things we need to do to comply with any state regulations on floodplain or anything like that," Krul said.<br /> <br /> A design of the building will be presented to the Helen Planning Design Review Board soon. The building will have a conference area, though city officials don't know how large yet.<br /> <br /> The new hotel will be constructed on the lot beside the former Black Forest Bear Park just off Main Street.<br /> <br /> Speaking of the bear park, the now-vacant facility soon will be home to the city's Ace Hardware, which will be relocating from the outlet mall to the larger location.<br /> <br /> Other small businesses also are opening in the city.<br /> <br /> Krul said the Kick Butt Vape Hut now is open in Whitehorse Square.<br /> <br /> After the meeting, Commissioner Jeff Ash discussed the hotel announcement.<br /> <br /> "It was very exciting news to hear that the new Holiday Inn Express is coming," Ash said. "This is one of the first new buildings that has been built since 2007, so for them to decide to put an 85-unit hotel in Helen speaks highly of the strength in our economy - particularly in tourism here in downtown Helen, and we're very excited about it."<br /> <br /> Ash said the hardware store relocating to the former bear park will give the owners a much larger facility to serve the city.<br /> <br /> "We want to keep our Ace Hardware up here," Ash said. "It's essential that we not only have stores for the tourists, but we need our local drug stores, our hardware stores, our restaurants as any other average town would have."<br /> <br /> The Black Forest Bear Park closed last year after the bears were relocated to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.
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