Interchange development a boost for community

Published 5:00 am Friday, August 8, 2008

It won’t be long until you, too, can stay at a Holiday InnExpress – and right here in Brookhaven.

As officials discuss pending new cluster lighting at Exit 40,Brookhaven’s primary exit is undergoing other metamorphoses aswell, including the addition of the popular chain hotel.

According to Jackie’s International Vice President Sunny Sethi,the dirt work going on at Exit 40 behind the Lincoln Inn and Suiteswill be a Holiday Inn Express by early 2009.

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“This has probably been about a five-year plan, and we recentlyalso purchased the Lincoln Inn and Suites and remodeled it,” hesaid. “We cut half of it off and used the land for the Holiday InnExpress project. It’ll be great because it’ll allow us to meet theneeds of different customers for different price ranges.”

City Building Inspector Chip Genarro said the wheels reallybegan turning on the project when the building permit was purchasedon June 10.

“They’ve been getting the forms together and getting all readyto lay the foundation,” he said.

Sethi said the new hotel will have 86 rooms and “a few suites,”as well as an indoor pool. He said the fittings will be put in nextweek for the foundation to be laid.

“This should really help, because by building a hotel like thatyou give the city tax revenue just from people choosing to stay inBrookhaven instead of Jackson or McComb or Louisiana,” he said.”There’s also revenue for local businesses, because people will goto gas stations, go get something to eat and explore town.”

Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield said putting such a visible andrecognizable fixture at Exit 40 will do nothing but benefit thecity of Brookhaven.

“This bodes well for our retailers,” he said. “Guests to ourlocal hotels don’t usually just come in and stay overnight and headout the next morning. They’ll look for a place to eat dinner,possibly visit a dry goods retailer, hopefully pick up a copy ofthe Chamber of Commerce’s shopping guide and see the numerousinteresting stores we have here and hopefully spend some money intown.”

And Sethi said he has more than just a financial interest in theproject, as his business actually got its start in Brookhaven 35years ago.

“We actually started business in Brookhaven in 1973, our firstrestaurants were Western Sizzlin and Bumpers,” he said. “ThatBumpers on Highway 51, my father started it.”

Brumfield said in addition to the home ties, it is exciting tohave the Holiday Inn Express located where it will be because itcontinues the modernization of the initial view that travelers haveof Brookhaven as they pass by.

“This is yet another quality new development coming to LincolnCounty that will offer first-class service, a modern facility andwill lure travelers off the interstate and into the community,” hesaid. “This new hotel, along with the new lighting at Exit 40, willdo a lot for highlighting our town as travelers on I-55 get a greatview of numerous new retailers at our primary exit.”

Sethi said he enjoys working with Brookhaven’s city officialsnot only because it’s home, but because the city is making so muchprogress under the current administration.

“It’s great to have the chance to do this,” he said. “I loveworking with the city of Brookhaven because (Public Works Director)Steve Moreton and his department are very thorough, and there is alot of growth and progress in Brookhaven, and we’re glad to be apart of it.”

Sethi said the Holiday Inn Express has taken on a new look inrecent years, with a pitched roof instead of a flat roof. He saidit is important to him that Brookhaven residents know he isinterested in giving them a quality product.

“The fact that we are a Brookhaven started company, and we’reMississippi-based with our offices in Canton, and we’ve always beenMississippi owned and operated,” he said. “This will be verywell-built because we’re doing it ourselves instead of bringing insomeone else to build it for profit and someone else runningit.”

Jackie’s International recently opened a Hampton Inn in McComb,giving them ownership of 16 hotels in Mississippi and Louisiana.Sethi said there are currently five more under construction, andthe company hopes to put in another 15 throughout the two states inthe next three years.