Lodging biggest stumbling block for Hartselle
By By Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle has a good deal to offer the tourists who visit here each year.
There's the annual Depot Days festival, which last year was named one of the Southeast's Top 25 September events. Others come to shop at the city's numerous antique stores. Additional people are also brought in through area sporting events, such as baseball tournaments.
Each of these events or attractions beckons tourists to the small Southern town. The problem is most of them end up spending the bulk of their money in neighboring cities such as Decatur.
"When we get people in, as soon as our one small hotel fills up, we have to send them to Decatur," Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce President Susan Hines said. "We just don't have a place to put all those families."
Currently, Hartselle has one hotel and a bed and breakfast. There are also restaurants, though Hines said some of the establishment's hours aren't as conducive to tourists as she would prefer.
"People come in year round for the antique stores and Depot Days is great because it brings lots of people in at one time," Hines said. "We have lots of good restaurants, but their hours can be problematic."
Hines and others are hoping a plan to construct a new hotel on Interstate 65 will give tourists more places to stay. The plan hinges on whether investors can be found for the project.
Currently, Bill Brennan of International Hotel Management is working on plans to build a motel on 2-acre of property from Robert Burgkart. According to Mayor Clif Knight, Brennan has yet to raise the estimated $400,000 in local investment needed for the project. The total cost of the project is some $1.8 million.
To assist with the project, Hartselle's City Council is spending some $275,000 to build an access road in the area.
Hines said she hopes the project will find investors and attract more business to the area.
"If we can get one hotel here, I think others would see what we have to offer and more would follow," Hines said.