A new hotel planned for Stewart Square is headed to City Council for approval after being accepted by the Oxford Planning Commission with a 5-1 vote.
According to Alan Kyger, economic development director, the idea came for a hotel in Stewart Square after developers decided to alter their original plans for a third retail and apartment space.
Kyger said Stewart Square was first approved in the city of Oxford as a Planned Unit Development (PUD). PUDs are used to lay out plans for buildings or developments, which are then approved.
The first phase for Stewart Square was building CVS and Patterson’s Café; the second phase was implementing retail on the first floor where First Financial Bank is and residential units on the upper floors.
“In my opinion, they realized that there seems to be plenty of student housing right now and there is still open retail on the first floor in the open parts of phase one and phase two, so the Stewart Square Developers were looking at alternatives and they came up with the idea of putting a hotel there,” Kyger said.
As a result of changes to the PUD, the developers of Stewart Square were required to ask the Planning Commission for approval of their changed plan.
“Because they were doing something slightly different than what they said they would do, they had to go back to Planning Commission and ask to amend their PUD,” Kyger said. “This building is slightly larger than the one that was originally approved, and in a PUD there is supposed to be a 20-foot setback between a property line and any building, and this hotel will go into that 20-foot area.”
As a result of the changes, the Planning Commission recommended the hotel to City Council with certain conditions attached, including the addition of sidewalks throughout the complex, increased landscaping and a distinguished drop-off area outside the main entrance to the hotel.
Kyger said the planning commission wants developers to provide sidewalks inside the complex and to increase landscaping along College Avenue.
“What they are saying here is that because there will be a little encroachment into that 20-foot property line rule, the Planning Commission wants to see the landscaping beefed up a bit,” he said. “They also want a different pavement delineation from the drop-off area at the main entrance to the proposed hotel, and I have a feeling that they are just trying to get it so that people know not to park in that area.”
According to Kyger, the developers are hoping that the hotel will bring more tenants to the other empty spaces in Stewart Square’s other buildings.
“Some of the advantages of the hotel are that it’s neither residential housing nor retail in the sense that you then have to find retailers or tenants to take its place,” Kyger said. “When it opens up as a hotel, it will be immediately 100 percent rented. If you put the hotel there, I believe the Stewart Square developers are also hoping that it will attract more tenants for the retail spaces that are currently open.”
As far as economic impact, Kyger said Oxford has much to gain from a new hotel in the city. He said there is a 6 percent bed tax that goes to the city of Oxford for those who stay in hotels, and in 2009, $326,980 were collected in bed tax. Kyger said the proposed hotel would bring about 15 full-time or full-time equivalent jobs to Oxford.
Miami University sophomore Cameron Innis said the hotel would be a welcome addition to Oxford, especially for visiting parents.
“I think a new hotel would do great in Oxford because it seems like my parents can never find a room,” Innis said. “They almost always have to stay at least a half hour away.”
Kyger found similar results when looking at occupancy rates across Oxford hotels.
“If you have a parent that tries to stay here on a weekend, you know what it’s like to get a hotel room here,” Kyger said. “In general, 10 and a half months the weekends are about 95 percent and above occupied, so on the weekends there will be very little cannibalism of other hotels.”
Ultimately, Kyger said the hotel would bring additional business to Oxford.
“If you’re not staying in Oxford, you’re going to spend less time in Oxford, so it’s not only the income from the bed tax but also from them eating here, shopping here and spending here,” Kyger said.