Plans for a massive redevelopment on the site of Worthington's Holiday Inn have been pushed into 2018.
Property managers for Witness Hospitality – formerly Alliance Hospitality – have extended the use of the Holiday Inn brand through mid-2018, according to Lee Brown, the city's planning and development director, and David McCorkle, the economic-development manager.
In February 2016, the group announced plans for a mixed-use "village" concept that would include two smaller hotels and several restaurants and retail spaces. The current hotel would be demolished before the redevelopment begins.
Witness CEO Ohm Patel has been heading up the project and acting as a spokesman, but did not return multiple calls requesting comment for this story.
Last year, Patel said keeping the Holiday Inn name was too expensive, and would cost up to $10 million to renew a long-term agreement.
Brown said city officials met with Patel and other representatives in May, and they now expect progress to begin in early 2018 on the site at 7007 N. High St.
For Brown and the city's planning staff, that delay adds more time to get the massive redevelopment plans right.
"It gives you time to look at all the things going on in the corridor," Brown said. "This is right at the front door of our community, so it's going to be important to see how it all comes together. I'd rather take our time and review it and have them work everything out on their end versus having something come through and then doing 20 modifications to it."
McCorkle said he was pleased the Witness representatives seemed "all on the same page" about the new direction, and he looked forward to "a more complete product" returning to city officials.
Looking ahead to the potential development, he said, it could be "a big driver" in a priority area for the city.
"Having the Holiday Inn site be redeveloped is a crucial piece to redevelop the corridor," he said. "The (Shops at Worthington Place) do well, but having complementary services and restaurants across the street can really be an extension of what people want to do.
"I think that's big. I think it's big for the mall, big for the Holiday Inn site and big for Wilson Bridge Road."