I-85 corridor provides prime real estate for hotels

By Chris Vessell bio | email

LANETT, AL - It's the type of hospitality even us in the south can appreciate. Several hotels are catering to the local economy by bringing in jobs and tax revenue. The grand opening of a major hotel in Lanett is the latest of a number of hotels that have opened their doors along Interstate-85.

"It's a busy piece of interstate between Atlanta and Montgomery. There's obviously a lot going on. There's a high traffic count and a lot of development," McLean Hicklin, Chief Operating Officer of the hotel's developer said.

Many of them are upscale hotels, some with up to five floors. They are also equipped with facilities for business meetings and conferences. "We felt there was a need for a very high quality, upscale hotel property," Hicklin said. "In addition to that there is a lot of industry that's beginning to move into this area," he added.

Even in a suffering economy, development planners say the area's attractions are enough to keep a local hotel's front desk booking rooms. "They're business travelers primarily and also {here} to take advantage of sporting events and events that go along with us being right next door to Auburn University," said Al Cook, Opelika Economic Development Director.

Down the road from Lanett, another Hampton Inn and Suites, The Fairfield Inn and Suites, and the Holiday Inn have opened their doors in Opelika. "The lodging and taxes that have been generated in these hotels are one of the good things that are going on in our tax revenue," Cook said.

Opelika officials have already approved development requests for two additional hotels. Developers are expected to start building a Studio 6 and a Microtel at Exit 58 in the near future.