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Developer acquires land for hotel

Despite a missed deadline, Dade City's attempts to get a new inn are starting to bear fruit. Construction could begin within two months.

By MOLLY MOORHEAD
Published April 6, 2005


DADE CITY - Hotel developer Piyush Mulji has completed the purchase of a 2.7-acre parcel on U.S. 301 south of downtown and plans to begin construction of a Hampton Inn within two months.

According to county property records, Mulji's firm, Small Street Hotels of Atlanta, paid $443,000 for the property, which lies south of a KFC restaurant.

Mulji said he has spent another $230,000 on the hotel project, including $57,000 for architectural drawings and the Hampton's $45,000 franchise application fee.

The hotel as planned will have 64 rooms - three with hot tubs - over three stories and about 1,200 square feet of conference center space. Ultimately, Mulji says the endeavor will cost about $5-million.

"We're hoping that this will be a good meeting place for business people with offices close by and the food and restaurants within driving distance," Mulji said Tuesday. "We hope this will be a domino effect in bringing other businesses to town."

City officials hope so, too. A hotel has been on the wish list for many years as Dade City's economy has endured a slow, arduous transition from a center of industry and agriculture to being more business-oriented.

Nearby Zephyrhills has a handful of mid-range hotels, but Dade City has only bed-and-breakfasts and one or two older motels.

Mulji said he also is planning a 10,000-square-foot professional office complex adjacent to the hotel.

"There is no good, "Class A' office space (in Dade City)," he said. "Our intention is to have an upscale office complex that will complement the hotel."

The city still must approve the site plans and issue a building permit. Mulji already has submitted early drafts of the site plan, and City Attorney Karla Owens said she expects they will be approved.

As an incentive to build here, the City Commission entered into a development agreement that gives Mulji about $150,000 in tax breaks over three years. The city would reimburse him after the building is completed and on the city's tax rolls.

Mulji originally asked for $325,000 in incentives.

He missed the original deadline of March 11 to purchase the property, as dictated by the agreement. The commission re-executed the agreement with a new closing deadline of March 28 and groundbreaking deadline of early August.

Mulji said he hopes to begin pouring concrete in about two months. He is awaiting final approval of a construction loan and feasibility studies. But he's confident the community can support the hotel.

"I'm not going to be spending $5-million if I didn't think it was going to be a success."

Molly Moorhead covers news about Dade City. She can be reached at 352 521-6521 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6521. Her e-mail address is moorhead@sptimes.com

[Last modified April 6, 2005, 01:07:18]


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