By Jordan Cohen
The developers of the $10 million Comfort Suites Hotel and Banquet Center to be constructed on the former site of the Ramada Inn on Belmont Avenue say they plan to add two restaurants and a shopping area in front of the complex.
“Our next step is to find the right tenants,” said Scott Yeager, president of Radius Hospitality of Canton, part of the investment group backing the development. “We would like to begin construction at the same time we start on the hotel.”
Yeager said he could not estimate the cost of the restaurants and shopping area.
Groundbreaking is expected next spring with construction to last 12 months.
Yeager said he anticipates a grand opening in the spring of 2014.
Yeager and other members of the group discussed the plans at the Liberty Township Administration Building on Monday evening.
Around 30 residents showed up to look at drawings and ask questions.
Yeager described Comfort Suites as a “select service hotel,” meaning it will not have a restaurant inside, but will offer all guests a free breakfast. The restaurants and shopping will be adjacent to the hotel.
The hotel will have 87 suites while the adjacent banquet center will hold around 400 seats. Yeager said the two will eventually employ 60 people.
The Radius president cited Dr. V.C. Perni, a Liberty resident and anesthesiologist, as the “spark plug” of the investment group. “This is going to be a great, great facility for this area and he is to thank for that,” Yeager said to the applause of the residents.
Perni disclosed that he had purchased the Ramada Inn property several years ago for $1.2 million and, after meeting Environmental Protection Agency requirements for removing asbestos, spent an additional $250,000 to raze the building. He said he made the commitment because he believed the location had potential.
“I think it’s a great piece of land, Belmont Avenue is a landmark and we need the stimulus and jobs here,” Perni said.
Perni said that he was later contacted by Radius, which owns the Holiday Inn in Boardman, about the property as a hotel location. “We talked about this project for two years,” he said. “Now we have to meet with the banks to get financing arranged and the architect (David Mann Architects, Akron) has to complete his work.”
Yeager said that there have been no tax abatements for the complex and that though Radius is looking into abatements, “they won’t affect the future” of the project.
For Perni, who has been a Liberty resident for nearly 40 years, the complex is the fulfillment of a dream.
“I can’t tell you how much I love this community,” he said. “It’s truly what we believe in.”