GAINESVILLE – Exactly four weeks after an amended ordinance governing extended stay hotels was approved by the Gainesville City Council, the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board unanimously recommended denial of an annexation application that would allow for the construction of an extended stay hotel.
Applicant Moez Hasni says he wants to use a five-and-a-half acre parcel fronting the southbound I-985 Exit 24 ramp, Jesse Jewell Parkway and Crescent Drive to construct a four story, 123-room Woodspring Signature Suites Extended Stay Hotel.
Also planned for the property is a 7,500 square foot retail building that has interest from commercial clients such as Dunkin Donuts and Cracker Barrel.
Gainesville Community and Economic Development Deputy Director Matt Tate told board members Tuesday evening, “This site would not be conducive for an extended stay, and as a proposal does not meet buffer requirements.”
“As you’re aware we adopted guidelines for extended stay and lodging services hotels and one of the requirements for extended stay hotels is a 100-foot buffer,” Tate explained. Tate added that a lack of curbing and gutters, as well as pedestrian sidewalks, along Crescent Drive was also a cause for concern.
“For those reasons we would not recommend that an extended stay be allowed but, rather, regular lodging services,” Tate said in conclusion.
Larry Bilski, owner of Architex Construction Group, spoke on behalf of Hasni, saying, “In light of the recommendation by the staff…I’d like to request that we table this…and then come back with a proposal that we think we can sell, whether it be (an) extended stay or a standard hotel.”
“Our eyes and ears are open to your recommendation,” Bilski told the board.
Hasni then went to the podium to speak on his own behalf. “This property still is a part of Hall County. We have been in front of the county…and we have this project approved.”
Hasni added that it was because of a desire to use the city’s sewer services that a decision to apply for annexation into the city was reached and he is now a bit frustrated.
He acknowledged that there are some extended stay hotels that give the entire business a bad name. “Yes, we do have a problem with extended stay, a lot of these older properties that we have, and in order to fix those problems this is the answer,” Hasni suggested.
“If you don’t allow a better extended stay to come into the market all you’re doing is supporting the older ones who will keep doing what they’re doing, and they have no incentive or reason to change if they have no competition,” Hasni said.
Pointing at the PowerPoint image of his site plan displayed overhead, Hasni said, “This is the only way you can help them clean up.”
The public hearing drew no additional comments. A motion was made to recommend denial of the application (as opposed to allowing the application to be tabled as requested by Bilski earlier) and board members voted unanimously in favor of denial.
The meeting was adjourned, and as Hasni was leaving the meeting room he told this reporter, “I’ll be back at the next (city council) meeting,” indicating that he would continue his effort to have his plan accepted.
The city council meeting at which Hasni’s application will be decided in scheduled for Tuesday, February 4th.