Soon to be seen in Margaretville? Photo of Best Western sign by Flickr user ninniane; published under Creative Commons license.
A long-planned transformation of the Margaretville Motel into a 62-room Best Western hotel got a major boost from New York State last week, in the form of $1.3 million in grant funds.
Funding for the Best Western plan was announced on Wednesday, Dec. 11, along with over 800 other projects receiving $719.5 million as part of the annual Regional Economic Development Council funding awards. The program, now in its third year, was put in place to fund projects that drive job creation and economic development in each of ten regions in the state.
The Best Western project was one of the largest awards in the rural Catskills region -- an area that is not represented by any one regional council. The councils, which are based on existing Empire State Development and Department of Labor regional boundaries, divide the Catskills into four parts: Delaware County is part of the Southern Tier, Greene County is part of the Capital Region, Schoharie County is part of the Mohawk Valley, and Sullivan and Ulster counties are part of the Mid-Hudson Valley.
The funding for the Best Western project will go to the for-profit Margaretville Lodging LLC, whose owners Peter and Carol Molnar run several Margaretville lodging businesses: The Margaretville Motel, the Margaretville Mountain Inn, the Village Suites, and the Suites On Main.
This year was Margaretville Lodging's second attempt at winning a state grant from the regional councils, said MARK Project executive director Peg Ellsworth, who serves on the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.
"Peter's been quite tenacious," Ellsworth said. "It's a shovel-ready project."
The plan to transform the tiny Margaretville Motel into a 62-room Best Western has been in the works for years. In 2005, the Daily Star reported that the project had officially broken ground.
Another long-planned major hotel project is also in the works in the area -- the much larger Belleayre Resort, in nearby Highmount. Ellsworth said that the arrival of a national hotel chain like Best Western would fill an unmet need in the region, and would serve a very different kind of tourist.
"It's a different price point for travelers than the [Belleayre] resort will be," Ellsworth said. "When I look at the wedding industry in this area -- and see that most of them are staying in Kingston -- I think we can fill the beds."
The central Catskills region has many independent bed-and-breakfasts and boutique hotels, Ellsworth said, but few name-brand options.
"There's a different kind of traveler out there that prefers the name brand," she said.
The $1.3 million in state funds represents only a portion of the cost of building the hotel, Ellsworth said.
"The rest of the financing's in place," she said. "That's what leverages state money: the mix of private investment, other financing, other grants."
The Molnars could not immediately be reached for comment about the project.