Work finally begins on hotel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Good things come to those who wait.

The Town of Rutledge is a prime example.

Since 1997, Rutledge Mayor Joe Dexter Flynn has been in constant contact with developers Steve Smith and Mark Richards, who represent M&Z Development, LLC., patiently awaiting finalized plans for a 50-room Best Western Hotel.

Earlier this year, the group held the hotel's groundbreaking ceremony, but heavy rains from recent months have put a damper on the construction of the $2 million facility, which includes a conference center.

Now that the rains have finally slacked off and the ground has dried out, workers have finally been able to begin work.

"We're glad to see work going on," Flynn said. "Any progress out there is great to see. The weather has held up some of it, but they're moving just as fast as they can."

Richards, co-owner of the property and hotel, mirrors Flynn's sentiments.

"I'm proud to death this one's going," Richards said. "It's been a long time coming."

Richards also expressed his appreciation to Flynn for his patience throughout the lengthy process.

"Mayor Flynn was very instrumental in us locating in Rutledge," Richards said. "He has worked with us and has been in the middle of it the whole time."

Over the past week and half, crews have been working to prepare the pad and have been installing underground plumbing and electricity and fire protection. Tuesday, a crew out of Crestview, Fla. could be seen digging out and pouring the hotel's slab for the elevator shaft.

"We're waiting to pour the slab," Richards said. "We're coming out of the ground with it."

Now that work has finally begun, Flynn said the community reaction has been positive.

"Everybody's ready to see it, it's been a long time coming," Flynn said. "People want to see the building going up before they will believe it. Now they're beginning to see it and I'm asked about it everyday, but they still want to see the walls go up."

The two-story hotel will also include wireless Internet and cable in every room and a swimming pool.

Richards said he and Smith believe the location of the hotel, which will be located on two acres of land at the corner of Hwy. 10 and Hwy. 331 next to Circle A Food Mart, is ideal for a county that is quickly booming.

"We like the location and the area," Richards said. "Both of us are country boys to begin with, so we liked the area. Of course, we've been looking at it over a number of years; it just took some time for the market to get right. Then when they came in with these automobile plants, naturally, it looked like it would be better, so we decided to bite the bullet and give it a whirl."

Richards believes the traffic that travels Hwy. 331 and the additional traffic that will be generated by the Hyundai plants that have located throughout the county will be beneficial to the hotel's success.

"It (the traffic) will help," Richards said. "If it dried up, it would hurt. I guess that's one thing we're counting on. We had a feasibility study done on the site, we were already convinced it was the right site, and when the company completed the feasibility study on the whole county they came back with the same thing."

The hotel will take up an acre and a half of the lot. The additional half acre will be used for the construction of a small restaurant.

"We plan to proceed with construction," Richards said. "We're moving on with it and we're hoping to be through as quick as possible. We're still shooting to open at the first of May."

The Town of Rutledge is also working to finalize plans for erecting a new water tower near the hotel, which will help with water pressure for existing and future businesses. A site has not been determined.

As for the additional revenue that will be generated from the new hotel, Flynn hopes to one day start a police department.