Work moving along at River Centre siteJanuary 17, 2019
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Though it’s looked nearly complete on the outside for quite some time, it will still be a couple of months before the Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel that is part of the Jasper River Centre development officially opens its doors to the public.
Jim Dora, General Hotels Corporation president, said the hotel project lagged behind schedule, but the majority of work is scheduled to be finished this month. He estimated the hotel will open in mid-March. Remaining checklist items include the installation of furniture, fixtures and other equipment; final cleaning of the building; training; and final inspections.
“Right now, our schedule, it’s dependent upon Marriott’s response,” Dora said of Marriott International, the company that owns the Fairfield brand. “So, I don’t want to put out a date that I don’t know yet from Marriott. We’ll send them this initial schedule, and then as they tighten their opening teams’ schedules, it firms up after that.”
He continued: “I would say that in March, probably the third week of March, dependent on the Marriott trainers and inspectors’ schedule. But we’re shooting for around then.”
In October 2018, Dora estimated the hotel would open in January 2019. He attributed the slip in schedule to the fact that some of the trades working on the construction of the building didn’t have quite as much manpower as the schedule demanded. Delays in the exterior wall panel delivery also pushed crews back, as did unforeseen site work.
“Once your schedule’s off a little bit, it’s just the way it is,” Dora said. “You try to make up time if you can, and it’s construction. It’s a tough business. If you’ve ever built a house, it’s hard to get a house built on time just because things do slip a little bit here and there.”
Upon opening, the facility will feature a swimming pool, business center and small exercise facility. It will also offer a complimentary breakfast to guests, and internet connectivity throughout the building. The 84-room Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel is being built in the old Jasper Cabinet block kiln building.
Work on the mixed-use space across the parking lot is also moving along, with spots for seven businesses and 76 apartments. That development is set to open at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020. Those facilities are shaping up in the former factory building.
A representative with Indianapolis-based Boxer Girl LLC, the developer of the River Centre project, said work is currently ongoing on the space that will house a 9,000-square-foot restaurant. Leasing and designing those seven business spaces — known as the River Centre Marketplace — is also ongoing, as is designing the apartments.
“Right now we’re working with quite a few local businesses interested,” said Leslie Tegmeyer, the property’s manager. She added that no leases have been signed, but said “we are looking at everything from coffee to clothing, food, fitness, a spa. So, those are people who we’re in discussions with right now.”
The apartments are not age-restricted, and range from 400 square feet to 1,600 square feet. They will feature more than 20 floor plans, with two different styles: one with an urban feel, and another following a traditional look. Each floor will also have a community room.
“It really has more of a condo feel and vibe than it will apartments,” Tegmeyer said. “especially with all the floor plans. It’s gonna be a neat place to live.”
She said both sides of the River Centre development are working together to benefit each other. She and Dora both see the new fixtures expanding Jasper’s reach.
“This is something that is great for the whole region,” Tegmeyer said of the mixed-use space. “We feel like with the train, and the cultural center, and the library, and the mill, and the Riverwalk, it’s just the full package. And it’s really important to us ... we want to encourage people to come see us, but then go downtown. We just feel like it will bring more people to the area, and then enhance what people already have here.”
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