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Still searching

MURFREESBORO – The recently retired mayor of Murfreesboro, John Hinton, returned to Town Council during their regular meeting here Wednesday to provide them with an update on the ongoing effort to get a hotel built in town. The Council gave him the authority to continue pursuing this project even after his time as mayor was over.

“I wish I had an excellent report to give you,” Hinton began, “but at this time, I do not.”

Hinton summarized what opportunities they had looked into so far. Working with a hotel broker out of Raleigh, they had optioned some pieces of property with an agreement from the individual property owners. The goal is to attract a decent hotel chain and construct a building with the capacity of 40 rooms and the option to add another floor with 20 more rooms.

A few different firms looked into the site, but none so far have decided to place a hotel in Murfreesboro.

One of the interested parties had previously looked into building a hotel at the corner of Highway 158 and Highway 11 back in 2000, but the lack of infrastructure like water and sewer ultimately deterred that plan, Hinton explained. That same hotel group looked into the new options, but decided against going forward right now.

“I don’t think that it is dead at this time,” Hinton reported. “I think we still have a chance because they are familiar with Murfreesboro. I believe they may turn around and come back to us.”

Other than that, however, Hinton said the hotel plans were at a standstill. The options on the potential sites expired on December 31. The property owners chose not to renew, but they did agree to allow the properties to be marketed online.

“Hopefully somebody will come along, see this [online listing], and be willing to invest in Murfreesboro,” Hinton explained.

From what Hinton said he’s seen so far, the barriers to getting a hotel include feasibility and infrastructure. The feedback he had received suggested that Murfreesboro was not a “destination,” so it wouldn’t be able to support the occupancy rate of a hotel. He was also told that the highway infrastructure is not developed enough to bring people to the town.

Councilman Billy Theodorakis asked if the town had developed any sort of incentive package to attract any potential hotels. Hinton answered they had suggested different incentives such as providing water hookup and temporarily waiving tourism tax fees.

Hinton added that, along with asking for assistance from Hertford County’s economic development group, he’d also asked the county commissioners to provide tax incentives, but they had requested something more concrete before they would pursue that idea.

“It’d be nice if they could contribute,” Theodorakis said.

Theodorakis continued, stating he thought there were plenty of opportunities for hotels to do business in Murfreesboro. He cited examples ranging from construction workers in the area to people arriving in town to attend events like weddings.

“That’s where we are at this time,” said Hinton, concluding his presentation. “We’ll keep working.”