Hotel Targets S. Main

Published 3:04 pm Thursday, January 29, 2015

FARMVILLE — David Francis thinks Farmville has good karma.

That’s one of the reasons the Town of Farmville has received a conditional use permit request for the construction of a hotel at 1913 South Main.

The site is the location of the former St. John’s Lutheran Church, which still owns the property that is zoned B-4 and allows for motels and hotels with a conditional use permit.

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Francis also believes there is room for one more hotel in the Farmville community, which is another reason the application has been submitted by the Forest resident, who has developed numerous motels and hotels through Francis Hospitality Inc.

“I’m very excited about coming into Farmville,” Francis told The Herald on Wednesday. “I have an extensive hotel background. I’m actually building, in Lynchburg, Comfort Inn & Suites right now, and I’m the former owner of the Best Western in Lynchburg. I just recently sold that.”

The Farmville project, he said, just came together perfectly, between the interest rates, the available site, and the community’s capacity to support another hotel.
“Farmville just has a great feel to it,” the former Best Western International board of directors member, and former Best Western board chairman, said. “It’s hard to explain. It has good karma.”

In his application, Francis states that the building could be up to four stories in height, or 55 feet tall, which will require the Town allowing him to exceed the current 35-foot height limit.

Though his application uses the word “motel” Francis said motel and hotel are used interchangeably, “but technically it’s going to be a hotel because it’s going to be greater than three stories in height. Typically, anything above two stories is a hotel and two stories or lower is a motel.”

The application does not list which specific hotel franchise chain will be involved but Francis said as soon as all the necessary permits are “approved we’re going to announce the particular brand that it’s going to be.”

Town officials look forward to the positive economic ripples the project will produce.

“This is something we’ve wanted for a long time,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told The Herald on Wednesday. “We have several good hotels but you know at times we’re short of rooms and I think this will really add a whole lot to the community. It will help boost up all the businesses. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Francis anticipates breaking ground in August for what he anticipates will be a 75 to 85-room hotel that will likely employ approximately 25 people.

The 2.127-acre property fronts South Main Street to the east and Peery Drive to the west. Francis said his research told him there was room for another hotel in Farmville and he was “very surprised that I could find that site and it was right there on (US) 15 so I thought the location was just a phenomenal location.”

Town council will consider the conditional use permit request at its Wednesday, February 11 7 p.m. meeting.