Entrepreneurs see new hotel a plus

Local motel operators hope the addition of a Days Inn is a good sign.

Sam McCloskey, managing member of McCloskey Real Estate Group, Altoona, and owner of McCloskey Builders, announced recently that a 54-room Days Inn hotel is expected to be open for business this summer on Sabbath Rest Road near the Pinecroft interchange of Interstate 99.

McCloskey will be the contractor for the hotel, which his real estate group will own.

“We welcome them to the area. I hope that is a good sign that the economy in the area is growing,” said Kate Millward, general manager of Courtyard by Marriott, Altoona.

Greg Sheehan, owner/operator of Holiday Inn Express, Altoona, said another motel will be good for the area.

“We are always hopeful if other developers seize what they believe are opportunities to develop a business in Blair County. That means others may be looking at our area as well,” Sheehan said. “I believe it is good for the area, good for all of us. It makes us more competitive to other communities.”

Kurt Stull, general manager of Comfort Suites, which opened in June 2010, also near the Pinecroft interchange, welcomes the competition.

“We are establishing our business and are optimistic that whole area will grow. We don’t want to discourage anyone who wants to make an investment,” Stull said. “We welcome the competition and hope they do well.”

Although small, the project is a good economic development project, said Martin J. Marasco, president and CEO of Altoona-Blair County Development Corp.

“From an economic standpoint, this is creating a tax base and people are making an investment in the community. How do you knock that? It is the American way,” Marasco said.

There is some disagreement as to whether the area needs another lodging property.

Mark Ickes, executive director of Explore Altoona, believes it does.

“Based on the conversations we have had with researchers, there has been a room demand increase over the past two years. The marketing strategy we are using we hope will bring in new demand and visitors to Blair County,” said Ickes.

The addition of another property could help on Penn State football weekends, a time of the year when room demand is high.

“What is funny to us is how many people ask if we built here because of Penn State football traffic. That is only seven weekends out of the year,” Stull said. “We generally fill it up on Penn State weekends, but that is not the reason why it was built. If that was the reason we built the hotel, bankers would laugh us out of the building.”

A hospitality management company, Sky Hospitality Group of Florida, will oversee operation of the new hotel, McCloskey said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.