Developers: New hotel will jumpstart Ironton

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas came early for Ironton as developers have unwrapped a $12.5 million "present" that will build a new hotel and create as many as 200 jobs.

Rumored for months, the local company Ironton Commercial Development LLC unveiled plans for a new 7-acre shopping/dining complex along Park Avenue and Ninth Street. Preliminary proposals include an 80 to 100-room Hampton Inn as the anchor and several other adjoining restaurants, businesses and shops that will create a "dynamic, first impression" of Ironton's main entrance, said managing partner James Kratzenberg.

&uot;This is for Ironton. I have lived hare almost all my life and Ironton is a great place to raise your kids,&uot; Kratzenberg said. &uot;But I want my kids to be able to go to college and come back here. This is a jumpstart for Ironton."

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As projected, the development would create between 150 to 200 jobs. Construction of the hotel is projected to begin in early 2005 and be completed by 2006.

"All the facilities and jobs will be new to the city,&uot; Kratzenberg said. &uot;We are not taking jobs and moving them from within the county. Everything coming into town will be new to the city of Ironton.&uot;

The other commercial businesses are still being finalized but could be completed by mid-2006.

"I am very confident that a majority of the things that are already in the works will be finalized within the very near future," he said.

Traffic flow, visibility and overall location all played a factor in choosing a site for the project that has been in the works for nearly two years, Kratzenberg said. The area is currently occupied by seven residences, the National Guard Armory, the Dennis J. Boll Group and Shelter Home and the Lawrence County Highway Garage.

All the property has not been purchased yet, but all deals are in the final stages of closing, Kratzenberg said.

A contract has already been signed for CRM Companies of Lexington, Ky., to manage the hotel. CRM is a nationally-recognized management firm that owns and operates one of the top-ranked Hampton Inns in the world, Kratzenberg said.

Manus Inc., sub-group of CRM, will build the four-story facility that will include sufficient parking, a pool and a conference facility that can accommodate up to 200 people.

Kratzenberg is quick to point out the deal would not be possible without the cooperation of the property owners, the Lawrence County Commissioners, CAO representative Ralph Kline, real estate agent Bob Craycraft and many others.

Not surprisingly, Dr.

Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, was also an integral part of the plan, Kratzenberg said.

Still, there is lots of work that must be completed and the entire project is contingent on finalization of financing which includes local investment, loans, grants, as well the acquisition of county property and some public improvements to the area.

"We are in the final stages, not the infancy," he said. "We are on the downhill slide and everything is progressing as expected."