Hotels and motels are plentiful in Grove City, and the city's status as a lodging mecca pays dividends by bringing in visitors.

"The people who stay in Grove City eat at our restaurants, buy gas at our gas stations and shop at our stores," said Amanda Davis, executive director at the Grove City Visitors and Convention Bureau.

That impact will only grow, as the Courtyard Marriott is expected to open a location in June, becoming Grove City's newest hotel.

The hotel is owned and operated by Hawkeye Hotels, an Iowa-based hotel group. The company has also begun construction on a Fairfield Inn & Suites.

Two other hotel projects are also planned for Grove City.

A four-story Comfort Suites is planned for the corner of Gantz Road and Rumfield Drive. A dual property, in which a Home2Suites and Tru by Hilton hotel would share a building, will occupy a site near the Drury Inn & Suites off Stringtown Road and Interstate 71.

The new projects will increase the total number of hotels and motels in Grove City to 18, Davis said. The city currently has 14 lodging establishments, with the Courtyard being the 15th.

Grove City currently has 1,266 hotel rooms, she said. The four new hotels would increase the total by 364 to 1,630 rooms.

"We haven't reached the point of saturation yet," Davis said. "Since the recession, we've been trending upward the last few years in the percentage of our occupancy and the average daily rate for rooms."

In 2016, Grove City's 14 hotels collected a total of $26.6 million in revenue, Davis said.

The city charges a 6 percent bed tax, which brought in about $1.5 million in tax revenue last year, said Richard Donnelly, the city's account finance associate and tax administrator.

In 2015, the bed tax revenue totaled about $1.4 million. The total in 2014, when the city had 13 hotels, was about $1.2 million, Donnelly said. As of May 24, the bed tax revenue for 2017 totals $522,932.

Fifty percent of the bed tax revenue goes to the city's general fund, for a total of about $750,000 in 2016, he said. Overall general fund revenue was about $29 million, he said.

"The contribution to the general fund from the bed tax is not unsubstantial," Donnelly said.

Twenty-five percent of the tax revenue is earmarked for the city's Community Development Fund.

"This is the fund that provides money that helps pay for special events like the Fourth of July celebration, the Homecoming Celebration, our summer concert series and outdoor movie series," Donnelly said.

The fund also provides money to Grove City Town Center Inc.

The remaining 25 percent goes to the visitors bureau.

"Revenue from the bed tax is really what funds our operations," Davis said. "There are a few other revenue sources we've begun, but probably 97, 98 percent of our revenue derives from the bed tax."

Grove City's proximity to downtown Columbus and area interstates makes it a prime location for hotels, said Om Patel, development manager for Hawkeye Hotels.

"We were looking to expand into the Columbus market, and Grove City was an obvious choice for us," he said.

The Courtyard Marriott is slated to open later in June at 1668 Buckeye Place. It will have 100 guest rooms, six suites and 1,500 square feet of meeting space.

Construction of the Fairfield Inn & Suites, also on Buckeye Place, began in March. This hotel, with 95 rooms, is expected to open in March 2018.

"The Marriott will cater almost exclusively to a corporate clientele," Patel said. "We expect our guests at the Fairfield Inn to be a mix of corporate (clients) and families."'

One of the steadiest sources of hotel business in central Ohio are lobbyists and other people who have business at the Ohio Statehouse, he said.

The bed tax revenue stream is one that can be easily counted on because much of the central Ohio hotel business is consistent, due to Ohio Statehouse business, conventions and major events such as the Arnold Sports Festival, Donnelly said.

"We're not like a place like Sandusky, where a rainy summer can wipe out a lot of the visitors who come for Cedar Point and other outdoor activities," he said.

Grove City's amenities, including a range of dining options near the hotels, major stores and the city's Town Center, help drive local hotel business, Davis said.

And those visitors can lead to more residents and businesses locating in the city, she said.

"They come to know what Grove City has to offer," Davis said.

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