City hopes new hotel will boost Gaines Street business

The construction of a new hotel brings promising beginnings to the revamping of Tallahassee.

Anyone driving through the intersection of Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue can see the nearly finished product of almost a year’s worth of labor. Marriott’s Residence Inn now sits on what was once a vacant lot and abandoned buildings.

“The hotel has 135 rooms; some are studios and others are one- or two-bedrooms that come equipped with fully functional kitchens,” said Jim Pastor, operations manager for Marriott. “They’re almost like miniature apartments. We even provide plates and utensils. Guests get much more for the same price as any other hotel.”

The hotel is the start of the city’s efforts to re-establish the area, Pastor said. “Within the hotel, there will be retail shops, which will add to the area in being more welcoming.”

The project, which has a budget of more than $20 million, was met with a few setbacks.

“We had to deal with a few technological problems and the whole process of obtaining permits,” Pastor said. “But those type of problems you sort of anticipate.”

Local businesses are awaiting the opening of the hotel and other businesses in the neighborhood.

“With the hotel up the street and that new bar across the way, I think the area is going to see a lot more business,” said Eric Taylor, a tattoo artist at Euphoria Tattoos. “There are a few shops around here now, but I think something like a hotel will bring more attention to the area.” Pastor said the location was prime real estate for a hotel of its size and the first of its design. “It’s in between (Florida A&M University) and (Florida State University), it’s near the Civic Center and the closest hotel to downtown besides the Doubletree Hotel. “Hopefully it would be the choice (hotel) for when politicians come to town.”

Patrick McNaney, superintendent for Herman/Stewart Construction, said although the project was long, he is pleased to see it almost complete.

“We’ve been working on the hotel for almost a year. There is a lot of work going into a project of this magnitude. We were working with a unique floor plan, but it’s good to see it come all together heading into the last stretch,” McNaney said. “We of course had some setbacks, but those come with the job. We still have a lot of work to do, but I’m sure we can get all done by the set deadline.”

On Nov. 28, the more than 50,000-square-foot hotel is set to have a “soft” opening, which Pastor said is a time in which the hotel is open for business but has not had an official grand opening.

The hotel will not be open to the public until Dec. 8.