The City of Harrah officially confirmed Thursday that a hotel will be constructed in Harrah and should be fully operational within 18-24 months.
“There is a hotel coming to Harrah, and we’re pretty excited about it. It’s a Comfort Inn and Suites. It’s going in at Reno and Harrah Road,” said city manager Clayton Lucas.
“There’s currently a strip mall being built at the corner that is identical to the other one that houses Blue Rooster Cafe, Murrel’s and Simple Simon’s. The hotel will be built right next door to that. Just south of the strip mall that’s being built now.”
The hotel being constructed in that area is optimal for Comfort Inn and Suites, and also the City of Harrah.
The site near Reno and Harrah Road was an ideal “central location” for Comfort Inn and Suites, and will still produce immediate benefit to the city through taxing a population other than Harrah residents.
Despite being located within the tax increment financing district, that was established to ease the tax burden of developers to encourage development and the construction of infrastructure, the hotel will bring in a five percent tax per guest.
“We partnered with them, and that’s the location they requested. Some people might say it’s in the middle of nowhere, but they say it’s in the middle of everything. The exit for the new turnpike will be at Reno and Luther Road, it’s between all the business and happenings on both 29th and 23rd Street, and the women’s prison is out that way. So it’s really centrally located for the area,” said Lucas.
“We expect that area to really grow. Obviously, sales tax is very important to the city. That’s how we operate without raising costs on residents for water, sewer, permitting and other services. That Fall Creek area is a TIF district, which means all the sales tax generated in that area goes back to the bank, developer or whoever holds the loans on that property and doesn’t go to the city or school district like normal. We won’t get any sales tax from down there until it either pays off the loans or the year 2035, whichever happens first. However, the one thing left out of that TIF agreement was a hotel tax. The city already has a hotel tax of five percent even though we don’t currently have a hotel. This is the only thing we could put on that property and actually collect revenue so it really makes sense from us as a city. “
Lucas says he’d like to spread awareness of the benefits of taxing visitors instead of Harrah residents in order to possibly raise that tax in the future.
“ We’d like to raise it to eight percent, but that will take a vote of the people. This tax is revenue that comes into the city and isn’t paid by Harrah residents. This will help us offset some costs and hopefully prevent us from raising rates down the road,” explained Lucas.
Construction is expected to begin within six months, and the hotel is expected to be fully operational in 18 to 24 months.
Designs and renderings are not yet complete, but Comfort Inn and Suites plans for a three-story building featuring 80-85 rooms, an indoor fitness facility, outdoor pool and conference room.
Comfort Inn is a part of the hospitality franchisor Choice Hotels International, Inc. Their hotel brands range from upscale to economy, and as of 2018 Choice Hotels franchised 6,800 properties in about 40 countries and territories worldwide, with approximately 554,000 rooms.