A proposed extended-stay hotel in Gainesville isn’t being welcomed in the city, so far.
City planning staff is saying they’re OK with 5.5 acres at 400 Crescent Drive being annexed — but not for a 123-room Woodspring Signature Suites Extended Stay Hotel.
Crescent Drive, as it passes by the property, has no sidewalks or curbs and gutters, said Matt Tate, Gainesville’s deputy director for community and economic development.
“Our concern would be there is not really adequate pedestrian connectivity for an (extended-stay hotel),” he said.
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board went a step further at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 14, denying WS Hotels LLC’s annexation request altogether. The board recommended the denial unanimously and without discussion.
The request now goes before the Gainesville City Council for a final vote.
“I don’t understand why there is such a big phobia (with extended-stay hotels),” Moe Hazni, representing WS Hotels, told the planning board. “We are not here to create problems. We are here to solve problems.”
“Most of our clients (stay) two weeks,” he said. “In order to fix (extended stay) problems, this is the answer. If you don’t allow a better extended stay to come into the market, all you’re doing is supporting the older ones to keep doing what they’re doing and they have no incentive or reason to change what they’re doing.”
If it’s ultimately approved, Woodspring would be Gainesville’s first new hotel since the city passed new rules governing hotels on Dec. 17, including restrictions on lengths of stays and record-keeping requirements.
Hotels are allowed to provide lodging in a room for up to 15 days, while guests at extended-stay hotels can stay for up to 30 days. Any hotel that has fixed cooking appliances or a kitchen in at least 5% of the rooms would be designated as extended-stay.
City officials said the focus of the regulations — which drew public criticism — is public safety, and hotels being used as long-term living spaces can become a fire hazard.
Larry Bielski of Architex Construction Group asked the planning board to at least delay voting on WS Hotels’ request to “give us a chance to go back over the (city staff) recommendations, which have kind of caught us by surprise.”
WS Hotels has other plans for the site, as well.
The developer has said the property, which is off Jesse Jewell Parkway near Interstate 985, also would include a separate 7,500-square-foot retail building, possibly featuring a Dunkin Donuts.
Also, “believe it or not, we’ve been talking to Cracker Barrel, and Cracker Barrel loves this site,” Hazni said.