Developers plan hotel project restart

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 8, 2009

A hotel construction project on Brookway Boulevard that has beenon hiatus for many months will soon be restarted, but commercialand residential construction elsewhere in the city is stillsagging.

Sunny Sehti, spokesman for the family-run project to construct aHoliday Inn Express near Interstate 55, said plans are to resumeconstruction on the $3 million project and, hopefully, open thehotel for business by the end of this year or early next year.

Sehti said the slow pace of the national economy forcedconstruction to a halt this spring.

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“It’s a matter of financing,” he said. “There’s no financialmarket. We had a couple of other projects and other things we haveto get done, but we plan to start back soon.”

The project’s pending resumption was good news to localofficials, who are otherwise looking at the slowest physical growthin Brookhaven in years.

“It’s slow,” said City Inspector Chip Gennaro. “It’s probably asslow as it’s been since I’ve been here. There’s not a whole lotgoing on.”

Ongoing projects in the city are few, Gennaro said, but includework on the city’s Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizens Center, an additionto Silver Cross Nursing Home and apartment renovations by downtownresident Terry Pappas. He said his office has the paperwork for theconstruction of just one new home.

“I hope it picks back up,” Gennaro said. “I really felt like itwould have. Right now is a really good time (to build). Interestrates are pretty dang good right now if people are going that route- better than they’ve been in years. But I don’t know. People mustbe a little leery.”

Though the pace of construction is slow, there are signs thatthe local economy is beginning to pick up steam, saidBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield. The resumption of the Holiday InnExpress project, he said, is one of those signs.

“Construction is not back at the pace it was, but we shouldn’texpect it to be quite yet,” Brumfield said. “People should haveconfidence that, locally, we’re pulling out of the recession andmoving forward.”

Brumfield said a recent increase in new car sales, variousimprovements to the retail sector and May’s sales tax returns areall encouraging signs for the Brookhaven economy.

“I believe we’ll continue to see signs of this in the comingmonths,” he said.