82-room hotel, restaurant coming on South Frontage

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 10, 2004

William Butler with Dimco Inc. surveys the site Thursday near the spot on South Frontage Road where construction on the Wingate Inn is scheduled to begin in 30 days.(Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[9/10/04]Travelers coming to Vicksburg will have yet another choice in hotels sometime next year when a Wingate Inn opens on South Frontage Road near The Home Depot development.

Real estate partners Pete Buford, Jimmy Hamilton and Charlie Buckner submitted plans this week for a three-story, 82-room hotel to be built on the land cleared last year. Speaking for the partnership, Buckner said they hope to begin construction in the next 30 days.

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Plans for the first phase of the development also call for an upscale restaurant to be built adjacent to the hotel on the first 3 1/2 acres of the 20-acre site.

“We’ve got a master plan that we would hope will work out, but it’s got to be flexible,” Buckner said. “Right now, we’ve got active contacts with several retail developments.”

The partnership came together to develop the land east of Bazinski Road shortly after The Home Depot was announced in 2002. The site has been cleared and leveled, but the Wingate Inn will be the first spin-off to The Home Depot that was promised with that development.

Work has also begun to clear the site for the Walgreens on the site of the former Halls Ferry School at Halls Ferry and South Frontage roads. That development is the second phase of Ergon Properties’ plans that also include a 50,000-square-foot retail shopping center.

The Ergon project was helped with $900,000 in tax increment financing through the city. Buckner said their project has been promised nothing, but they have considered applying for a tax break or incentive.

“They (the city) have jumped through hoops to help us in any way they can so far,” Buckner said.

Today, about 1,800 hotel rooms are available in Vicksburg, according to the Vicksburg Convention Center figures, but most of those hotels have been geared toward tourism either with the Vicksburg National Military Park or four local casinos.

The Wingate Inns chain started in 1996 for business travelers, offering rooms with high-speed Internet access, for example, and other business services. Buckner said the site for the hotel was picked not only because of The Home Depot development, but also for its access to Interstate 20.

“We did a feasibility study that indicated it would be an excellent location because of its visibility,” he said.

This will be the third Wingate Inn in Mississippi. The other two are in Columbus and D’Iberville. There are three in Louisiana, at West Monroe, New Orleans and Sulphur.