FINDLAY - Flush with business travelers, Findlay is getting a new hotel.
A development company that owns two hotels in Findlay plans to open a third, more upscale lodging within a year.
John Whitson of Whitson Properties in Findlay said his company should be closing on a deal and breaking ground today for a Hilton Garden Inn near the interchange of I-75 and U.S. Route 224.
"The numbers we see right now in Findlay ... are very strong. The occupancy is high. The rates are much higher than they were just a couple years ago," Whitson said.
Whitson Properties opened a 74-room Holiday Inn Express in 1998 and a 73-room Country Inn & Suites in 2005. Both are at the same interchange as the coming Hilton.
The five-story Hilton Garden Inn will have 101 rooms. The hotel will be near the Carmike 12 Cinema and directly across from the recently opened Beer Barrel Pizza & Grill.
Whitson Properties owned the land on which the hotel will be built. The developers expect to spend about $12 million on the project.
Construction should begin soon and is expected to take about a year. Whitson said the company hopes to open July 1, 2014.
Though Findlay isn't a huge city - it's home to about 41,000 people - its location on I-75 halfway between Dayton and Detroit makes it an appealing stop for travelers.
Findlay also has a strong business community.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is headquartered in Findlay, and Whirlpool has a large operation there. Findlay also is home to northwest Ohio's largest public company in Marathon Petroleum Corp. The refining company, which was 33rd on this year's Fortune 500 list, spun off from Marathon Oil Corp. in 2011.
Earlier this year, Angela Crist, director of the Hancock County Convention and Visitors Bureau, told The Blade that Marathon has brought a ripple affect to Findlay's restaurants and hotels.
"When Marathon Petroleum located their headquarters here, that started driving a lot of travel," she said. "If they're having any kind of meeting at the corporate level, they're bringing people here."
Whitson said they are trying to bring to Findlay a type of hotel it doesn't currently have. He also said the city doesn't have enough rooms of the type business travelers often prefer.
"The Hilton brand is very strong and the Garden Inn is simply within the industry the hottest name out there right now. We were happy to get it," he said.
Metro Toledo has one Garden Inn, at Levis Commons in Perrysburg.
Hilton Garden Inn