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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Weather leaving no room for hotel

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  • Cold temperatures and changes in the hotel configuration have put a brief pause on the go-ahead for the new Best Western Plus hotel set for construction on K-61 highway just south of the Holiday Inn Express hotel.
    Dirt moving crews were in the process of bringing the ground up to grade and they needed at least 18 percent moisture in the soil content so it would pack correctly.
    However, with temperatures dropping below freezing at night the crews have to wait until the moisture won't freeze before they can continue packing the soil, said Brad Blankenship, city inspector.
    The compacted soil is critical to the construction of the hotel. It has to meet certain criteria before construction can begin.
    "When they come to me, they have to guarantee it (soil) is 95 percent compacted," Blankenship said.
    With a $4.5 million hotel at stake, it's better to take the time and spend a little extra money to make sure the foundation won't crack and will be structurally sound.
    "You want to make sure it isn't going anywhere," said Blankenship who will not put his name to a construction approval form until soils engineers confirm the soil is ready.
    While crews wait for the ground to warm up, some of the configuration of the building has changed. Best Western, that has several hotel layout plans, has to approve those changes before they will be ready to pull the necessary permits so construction can begin, Blankenship said.
    Among the changes is moving the swimming pool to the middle of the hotel and eliminating at least one meeting room.
    Once the plans are finalized, the permits are approved and the contractor is in place, construction can begin almost immediately.
    "It usually takes a year once it starts. It will move very fast," Shaw said.
    The new hotel will be three stories high and have 70 rooms, said Shelly Shaw, general manager for Comfort Suites and possible manager for the new hotel.
    In addition to the pool, the hotel will have a hot tub, meeting room, several two room suites, microwaves and USB hookups in all rooms.
    The dirt issues and the building changes should be certified soon with construction starting within a month depending on the weather, Shaw said.
    The hotel will have an entirely new staff with almost all them hired locally.
    Shaw is excited to have another hotel along with the Comfort Suites and Holiday Inn Express. She said it was good for competition and if one hotel is full they can recommend another hotel just a few feet away.
    "It's always good to have several hotels to choose from. I think it will help expand the business," Shaw said. "I think it's going to be great. I'm all for the competition. It will help bring people to the area."
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