Updated: By a 3-2 vote, Floyd County Commission rejects TAD for Berry’s proposed Fairfield Inn hotel. From Berry: ‘We are in additional conversations with the city about how to move the project forward.’

Updated: By a 3-2 vote, Floyd County Commission rejects TAD for Berry’s proposed Fairfield Inn hotel. From Berry: ‘We are in additional conversations with the city about how to move the project forward.’

WEDNESDAY

Following the County Commission’s rejection of the TAD application, we asked Berry for what’s next in the project. Berry’s latest statement follows:
“We are in additional conversations with the city about how to move the project forward.”

TUESDAY

Not so much a stunner but definitely a slap back from the Floyd County Commission on Tuesday as the board rejected plans to take part in the tax allocation district for Berry College’s proposed Fairfield Inn & Suites adjoining the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.

Two commissioners, Rhonda Wallace and Wright Bagby, voted in favor of passage. Opposing were Chair Scotty Hancock, Larry Maxey and Allison Watters. While all lauded the scope and economic impact of the $12 million investment, Hancock said he got “heartburn” when thinking of approving the TAD just after increasing taxpayers’ millage rates. That was echoed by Watters.

Berry attorney Danny Price made the final pitch before the County Commission. Price is a familiar face before the county as he co-chaired the successful passage of the 2017 general purpose SPLOST that earmarked $63.8 million in extra revenue for county and municipal governments. Price was joined by the college’s finance director, Brian Erb. Their presentation began around the eight-minute mark in the Facebook Live video below. You can watch the vote here, beginning at 29:50 and ending around 43:00.

The project already has been blessed by the Rome City Commission, the Rome Board of Education and the development committee (by a 4-2 vote with Maxey and County Manager Jamie McCord voting no, an early sign on how Tuesday night’s vote would go).

In context: There’s likely some politics in play, especially with Watters and Bagby up for new terms this year — even if the incumbents split their votes. And that doesn’t mean 2020 alone … There also was a slight riff about whether the hotel could move forward, given Berry’s resources. Watters also raised the pandemic and the impact on revenues — which are the same economic pressures being felt by the college as well. Plus looking at the earlier TADs approved by the commission — exactly which developer didn’t have similar access to financial reserves? …  What we didn’t hear, and perhaps should have, was a recusal by Hancock as his wife works for the college.

 

Background:

  • Tax Allocation District (TAD) funding request by Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services, LLC for Fairfield Inn and Suites at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. The $1.73 million package is designed for the undeveloped site off the Armuchee Connector. According to the agreement, the developer — Berry’s Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services LLC  would receive no more than $1,728,840 in assistance for the construction of the hotel, which would be no more than $172,884 paid over the next 10 years on or after Dec. 10 of the year following completion of the hotel. Currently, Berry pays $100 a year on taxes for the hotel site. That could continue for a decade and then it would be taxed at full rate. The Rome City Commission unanimously approved the agreement during their Sept. 14 meeting. So far, the proposal has been met with a lukewarm response from the county. During the August meeting of the Rome Development Agency, both Floyd County representatives, County Commissioner Larry Maxey and County Manager Jamie McCord, both voted no on the TAD proposal.

Sept. 14: Unanimous OK from Rome City Commission: At Monday’s meeting, Rome City commissioners unanimously approved a bid for the existing Mount Berry Mall tax allocation district to include three acres set aside for a Fairfield Inn & Suites adjoining the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. The vote addressed the $1.73 million package designed for the undeveloped site off the Armuchee Connector.

According to the agreement, the developer — Berry’s Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services LLC  would receive no more than $1,728,840 in assistance for the construction of the hotel, which would be no more than $172,884 paid over the next 10 years on or after Dec. 10 of the year following completion of the hotel. Currently, Berry pays $100 a year on taxes for the hotel site. That could continue for a decade and then it would be taxed at full rate.

If built, the Fairfield would include 80 hotel rooms. It would rise at the main entrance to the tennis center site and likely would be joined eventually by a restaurant.

Commissioner Wendy Davis presented the package and made the motion to pass it, seconded by Randy Quick. Commissioner Mark Cochran recused himself from the vote. It passed 7-0.

You can watch the brief presentation and vote here.

Floyd County also must approve the agreement. So far, it has met with a lukewarm response from the county.

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