Development news

Monday, December 18, 2006

New Town House Inn owners to add restaurant, strip mall

The new owners of the Town House Inn in Cape Girardeau have plans beyond remodeling the hotel -- they want to redevelop the nearly two-acre property on Kingshighway by adding a new restaurant and strip mall.

Matt and Robin Goehman bought the 51-room hotel Nov. 1 from brothers Pete and Manny Patel. The Patels had recently remodeled the rooms and razed the building that housed the hotel's offices and a restaurant and bar.

The Goehmans saw the extra room as an opportunity.

"We don't have definite plans," Robin Goehman said. "But we're thinking a restaurant would be a good thing to go in there."

Matt Goehman said the couple already own the five-story Boulevard Apartments, which used to be the Sunny Hill Hotel. But there is a shortage of rooms, which primarily are short-term efficiency apartments, some of which rent by the week. So when the Town House came up for sale, the Goehmans thought it would fit nicely into their plans.

"We wanted to concentrate on the niche market we're working on," Matt Goehman said.

The rooms are being painted and new air conditioners are being installed. They plan to put on a new roof and give the hotel a more modern look next summer, he said. A new sign will be put up to show the time and temperature as well as hotel price specials.

"Over the next year, we're going to make a lot more improvements," he said. "It's going to look practically new."

In the spot in front of the hotel where the office building was torn down, Matt Goehman said he'd like to see a Waffle House kind of restaurant.

"That's one of the franchises we'd prefer," he said.

This spring, new asphalt will resurface the area, he said. Then they plan to put up a sign, seeking if a separate developer would like to put a restaurant there. At the same time, the Goehmans will be doing some investigating with Waffle House and other restaurants on their own.

On the south side of the hotel, room exists for a strip mall that could house a Subway-style sandwich shop and other store front, Matt Goehman said. While the restaurant seems a sure thing, the strip mall is "more up in the air," he said. "We're still looking at all of our options."

Ricki Ing, a real estate broker for Prudential Bridgeport Inc., represented the Goehmans in the sale. She said the location is a good one, with high traffic counts and good visibility. property."

Scott City ethanol plant gets state OK

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has granted a preconstruction waiver for a proposed ethanol plant in Scott City that will allow construction of the $200 million facility to begin after the start of the year.

The waiver grants Ethanex at SEMO Port that authority to begin construction immediately, but president and CEO Al Knapp said that will start sometime after Jan. 1. The company will start hiring employees in the first or second quarter of 2008, he said, with production to begin later that year.

"It's a huge step in the process," Knapp said. "But I want to stress we do not have an official permit yet. But the state has reviewed our application and they're satisfied enough with that application to give us a waiver."

The department must complete a technical review of Ethanex's permit application before production starts, according to DNR spokeswoman Renee Bungart. Knapp was hopeful they'd have full permit approval in the next few weeks, he said.

The ethanol plant is a joint venture between SEMO Milling, a corn mill expected to begin operations next month, and Kansas-based Ethanex Energy North America Inc., which designs and develops ethanol plants.

Bungart said the department's air pollution control program granted the requested waiver, but that does not automatically guarantee the plant will get full approval. She said the waiver means that the state is satisfied with plans so far. A construction permit must be on file before a waiver can be granted, she said.

After a construction permit is granted and the plant is completed, the plant will operate for a time without an operational permit while the state reviews the plant's operations. If the plant meets all air quality standards, it will be granted an operational permit, she said.

"But based on the information we have now, they are meeting the requirements," she said.

Knapp said the plans are in the design stage. Fill work on the plant site was recently finished. The company was required to fill 431,000 cubic yards to raise the plant above the 500-year flood plain. The plant, according to the state, is expected to be a state-of-the-art plant producing 132 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol per year. Ethanol is a corn-based renewable fuel being used to increase octane and improve the emissions quality of gasoline.

The plant is expected to create between 90 and 100 jobs. The plant will be a "food/fuel" facility, meaning it will create ethanol as well as human-grade corn products.

Seventy-five to 80 percent production will be geared toward ethanol production for companies like Chevron, and 20 to 25 percent will be food-grade products, such as cereals, brewer grits, fish batter and breading for companies like Kellogg and Gilster-Mary Lee.

As part of Ethanex's land lease for 28 acres, the company has access to the Mississippi River harbor and some barge spots to unload corn and to ship ethanol, Overbey said. The company's main plan, however, is to ship ethanol largely by rail car and some by truck, he said.

Ethanex will be building some additional railroad tracks, but the port and the company are still looking at how much and where it will actually go, Overbey said.

"We've been fortunate, I guess," Overbey said. "There's been some good planning and some dumb luck. But things are going really well so far."

The plant will be to the west of the harbor, north of the railroad track and south of the river, Overbey said.

Jackson Pizza Hut to relocate

The owners of the Pizza Hut in Jackson have reached a deal to move the business from its current location on Main Street to the former Marion Eye Center building on 2260 E. Jackson Blvd, according to real estate agent Cynthia Austin.

The move is expected to take place next June and about $300,000 in renovation work on the new Pizza Hut location should begin in January or February. The new Pizza Hut will take up 3,000 square feet in two of the spaces in the strip mall. Joe Ewers, the market supervisor for A&D Management, which owns the Cape Girardeau and Jackson Pizza Huts, said the Jackson project will be a Wing Street Pizza Hut.

"Our current plans are to start construction mid-February and be opened by early May," he said. "The dollar amount for this project has not been determined. Although if we can get it done for $300,000 we will be happy."

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