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Fairway suites proposes addition of new hotel on golf course property near the parking lot

JASON CHANEY - Meadow Lakes Golf Course has been asked by Fairview Suites if they could build a 70-room hotel on the golf course property on land east of the parking lot.

A hotel company has recently approached Meadow Lakes leaders about adding a new hotel to its golf course property.

Whether that proposal will come to fruition is not yet determined, but the idea has drawn interest from local officials and spurred some research into what it might mean for the municipally owned facility and its neighbors.

"A company called Fairway Suites reached out to us," recalls Meadow Lakes Director Zach Lampert. "I think they may have gotten in contact with us because of our course designer, Bill Robinson. His brother, John Robinson, helps Fairway Suites locate golf courses for these hotel projects."

Lampert points out that Bill was likely aware of two selling points that he passed along to his brother. Meadow Lakes property has about 30,000 square feet of empty land west of its parking lot, and data center construction workers have kept local motels full most months of the year.

Fairway Suites approached Lampert and City of Prineville leaders in April, Lampert said, and since that time, they have slowly educated themselves on what type of business plans the company tends to develop on golf course properties.

"Their goal is to build a limited-service hotel (no restaurant or meeting rooms) on golf course property," he explained. "They want to utilize the golf course's restaurant and meeting rooms for the hotel's restaurant and meeting rooms."

This piqued the interest of Lampert and City Manager Steve Forrester, both of whom have tried to boost revenue at the Meadow Lakes Restaurant.

"We have had some troubles over the years trying to make the restaurant side profitable," Lampert said. "If you have a hotel on site, that should be a good shot in the arm as far as a chance for additional revenue."

Though Fairway Suites is the company reaching out to Meadow Lakes, they would not ultimately build the hotel nor operate it. Lampert explained that they first work with golf course personnel to set the table for a hotel, then reach out to multiple partner hotel chains to find one that is interested in the site. He said their signature project, located in Kansas City, Missouri, is a Marriott hotel.

The hotel chain would then lease the property from the city and manage the hotel.

"What their idea is, based on the space that we have, is a 70-room hotel," Lampert said. "They would basically build it up to the (west end of) the parking lot and then build some additional parking behind it to satisfy the hotel guests."

Lampert acknowledges that the idea looks good on paper. The hotel would likely give the restaurant and golf course a substantial boost in customers, and though they would need to add dinner and breakfast service at the restaurant and make changes to account for added customer volume, those costs would likely get offset by the increase in business.

However, there are some concerns that need addressed before golf course and city leaders move beyond the information gathering stage of this process.

"One of the biggest things we are really sensitive about is our local neighborhood here. We want to make sure we hear them out," Lampert said. "Do they see a benefit to having a hotel down the street for their guests or family that comes to town, or having a restaurant open breakfast, lunch and dinner within walking distance? Are there concerns about the potential for increased traffic?"

City officials have already begun looking at the traffic question. They installed traffic counters on Meadow Lakes Drive — the only way into or out of the golf course — in May, and they plan to have a traffic study conducted in the near future that would determine the impact of a 70-room hotel.

However, local leaders place a higher premium on what the residents of the area have to say, so part of their early research will involve a public meeting planned for early September. Letters inviting nearby residents to the event went out late last week.

"We will tell them what we know about what we have been approached with and give them the opportunity to talk about any concerns they may have and hopefully answer those questions," Lampert said.

Input collected from that meeting will play a prominent role in determining whether city and golf course officials continue to move forward with the Fairway Suites proposal.

"We are far away from making any decisions as to whether or not this is even viable," Lampert stated. "We haven't dug super deep yet."

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A public meeting about the Fairview Suites hotel proposal will be held at Meadow Lakes Restaurant at 5:15 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6.

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