The addition of a new 80-room hotel is the latest sign of downtown Decatur’s ongoing revitalization.
Jack Fite of Fite Building Co. in Decatur, Chris Chavis of Opelika-based PHD Hotels, and H.M. Nowlin are developing the Fairfield Inn by Marriott, which will be located at Moulton Street and Second Avenue Southeast.
The hotel will fill what has become a void in the heart of downtown. Most of the property on which it will be erected has been vacant since Nowlin demolished the previous building, which had been home to C.F. Penn Hamburgers, Downtown Dawgs and other businesses. That building suffered major damage in a 2018 windstorm.
Mayor Tab Bowling said he expects construction of the hotel to be complete in about 16 months.
“It’s a perfect location,” Bowling said. “A hotel should bring even more businesses and restaurants downtown, especially since it won’t include any restaurants.”
The hotel will also complement businesses and attractions already in downtown, such as the Princess Theatre and the Cook Museum of Natural Science.
But growth isn’t without growing pains, and already some people are wondering what the new hotel, especially given where it’s located, and never mind any other businesses it attracts, could mean for downtown parking.
Even before the hotel announcement, building a parking deck was a priority for the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and the County Commission.
The chamber advocated for a parking deck in downtown Decatur during the recent development of its local agenda, and Commission Chairman Ray Long said that position “remains a valid point.”
Now it is even more so.
Previous studies have questioned the need for a parking deck in downtown, and a new study funded by the county and city is currently on hold due to COVID, according to Long.
But with the Cook Museum already spurring discussion of additional parking, the new hotel makes it even more of a priority.
Downtown is growing, and the hotel is not the end of it. Now the only question is will downtown’s infrastructure grow with it or have to play catch-up.