Rohnert Park could see a new hotel break ground on its west side late next year, a project that could help boost the local economy and the city's finances.
The five-story, 163-room Oxford Suites is proposed for a 4.5-acre site at the north end of Redwood Drive at Wilfred Avenue, which is to be renamed Golf Course Drive West.
It would be the closest hotel to a 3,000-slot machine casino the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria plan to open just south of the Home Depot store.
The tribe, which is now waiting on federal government approval for that project, is delaying construction of its own six-story, 200-room hotel until a later date. It hopes to start work on the casino this summer and finish it by the end of 2013.
The Oxford Suites project will help Rohnert Park serve tourists who are visiting the casino and the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, said Linda Babonis, the city's economic development director.
"They're going to be able to meet demand for rooms when the casino opens and the Green Music Center, because not everybody is going to stay in a 4-star hotel," she said. "This is going to be a big deal from that perspective, keeping the dollars and the people in the city."
The City Council is set to take up the application by the Bend, Ore.-based hotel company next Tuesday. It won Planning Commission approval in April.
Beyond the jobs they directly create, hotels are a potent economic force, said Robert Eyler, an economist who directs SSU's Center for Regional Economic Analysis.
"They have a powerful and unique multiplier effect," Eyler said.
Hotels attract tourists from outside the area and extend the amount of time visitors spend in a location, he said. In addition, they also boost local sales and bed taxes, two key sources of city revenue.
Transient occupancy taxes are Rohnert Park's fourth-largest revenue source. The city has seven hotels now and projects $1.7 million in occupancy tax income this year.
"It's a project that will showcase Rohnert Park," Councilman Amy Ahanotu said of the hotel.
There are 6,600 hotel rooms in the county, according to the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau. Of those, 925 are in Rohnert Park.
Earlier this month, Windsor approved a 100-room Holiday Inn. The developments in Windsor and Rohnert Park have cheered officials focused on re-energizing an ailing county economy.
"I think this vote of confidence, in Rohnert Park and Windsor, by these national firms is great news," said Ben Stone, director of the county Economic Development Board.
The Oxford Suites project, which would include a McDonald's restaurant with a drive-thru, would be 112,000 square feet. It still needs environmental permits from agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Those permits could take six weeks to 4? months to secure, said Edmund Wadeson, the project manager for Oxford Hotel Group. If all goes as planned, the preliminary opening date is November 2013, he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.