By Claire Johnson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
With construction scheduled to start in April for Woodford County’s first modern hotel, a Holiday Inn Express in Versailles, Midway and county officials have high hopes for a hotel in Midway.
|Plat of Green Gables development with one potential hotel site marked;|
another is across the interstate (Click on the image for a larger version)
The prospects for a Midway hotel are improving because Midway Station is getting its first large-scale industries and a convenience store, developed by Dennis Anderson of Lexington, who has an option on the unsold parts of Midway station and is the developer of Green Gables.
Soper said, “When a hotel is looking to build a site, they want gasoline and food next to them. It is also industrial-based. Industry brings people in for the week, tourists come on the weekend.”
Soper said Anderson has had a potential investor look at both sites. “It didn’t pass the mustard, so to speak,” Soper said, referring to the investor’s decision not to build.
Soper and Vandegrift said the investor did not physically visit Midway, but relied on the internet, and Vandegrift said “The hotel chain did a feasibility study to see if Midway would be a good choice” but it probably did not show enough residential homes in Midway, which has a population of about 1,700 compared to 9,000 in Versailles.
“They have more rooftops, so there’s more chance of succeeding with more residents nearby,” Vandegrift said.
Midway City Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher said she thinks Midway should have gotten a hotel before Versailles, and so does Vandegrift.
“I was surprised too,” Vandegrift said. “Our proximity to I-64 is more ideal to a hotel.” The Bluegrass Parkway is not nearly as travelled as much as the interstate, he said.
Soper said the jobs Midway Station is about to receive will boost the chances for a hotel. American Howa Kentucky Inc. will provide at least 54 jobs and Lakeshore Learning Materials has promised 262 in return for state and local incentives.
“When these two plants get up and running,” Soper said, “I think we have a real good shot at landing a hotel.”
Vandegrift, a former restaurateur on Main Street, said it is “crazy” that Midway does not have a hotel already. He agreed the two plants will increase the likelihood, but he also said if investors actually visit Midway, they will see it as a good investment.
“We already have a good amount of people that visit for the day, but would stay if they had a place to stay,” Vandegrift said. “We just need to get them [investors] here on the ground to see that.”
If Midway received a hotel, downtown businesses would benefit the most, according to Vandegrift.
The mayor said he thinks Midway would see a significant increase in tourism if a hotel were added.
“I’m not holding my breath we will get one soon,” he said, “but I’m very hopeful.”
The Holiday Inn Express in Versailles is set to open in the late fall of 2017, according to Soper.
The hotel will have 82 rooms, more than doubling the number of rooms subject to the “bed tax” levied by the county tourism commission. Those rooms are all at bed and breakfasts, and generate revenue of about $10,000 a year for tourism promotion, much less than adjoining counties.