With a rezoning approved by New Albany City Council on May 7, New Albany Co. leaders said they would begin marketing in earnest more than 12 acres with the goal of attracting a hotel, a fueling station and other commercial amenities.

Council members voted 6-1 to rezone 12.47 acres north of and adjacent to U.S. Route 62, south of and adjacent to Bevelhymer Road and east of and adjacent to Walton Parkway for an area to be known as the "Walton-62 Commerce District," according to a legislative report for council members.

Council member Chip Fellows cast the only vote against the rezoning, saying he would prefer that the hotel be closer to Route 62 rather than the proposed setback location closer to Bevelhymer Road. Fellows said he was concerned with the proposed proximity to Bevelhymer and wanted to maintain that road's rural character.

Aaron Underhill, legal representative for the New Albany Co., said demand for hotel rooms in the area has been growing based on the number of jobs that have come in recent years to the New Albany International Business Park. That job increase brings business travelers, he said, and construction work in the area also increases the need for hotel rooms.

Although the New Albany Co. has received interest from hotel developers, these sorts of conversations don't become more serious until the proper zoning is secured, Underhill said.

The New Albany Co. is proposing a hotel to be set back off Route 62 near Bevelhymer Road and Walton Parkway, Underhill said.

Other possibilities for the area include a fueling station and such service-related uses as restaurants, he said.

Zoning would allow a hotel up to 54 feet tall, said Tom Rubey, director of development for the New Albany Co., and such architectural details as lighting and signs for any commercial development would be similar to the development on the east side of Route 62.

Now that the zoning is approved, the company would begin marketing the property more aggressively, Rubey said.

If a user would commit to develop on the site, the New Albany Co. would return to the city's planning commission with a final development plan for approval, Underhill said. Council members wouldn't have to vote on a final development plan, he said.

Hampton Inn & Suites New Albany Columbus is at 5220 Forest Drive, near Route 62. Courtyard by Marriott Columbus New Albany is at 5211 Forest Drive. Home2 Suites by Hilton New Albany Columbus is at 5095 Forest Drive.

Since 2014, the average annual amount of revenue deposited into the general fund from the 6% bed tax is approximately $260,000 -- with the lowest year of collections in 2014 at about $183,000 and the highest year in 2018 at about $343,000, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.

"This represents the revenue from two hotels; a third hotel only received conditional occupancy in the last several weeks and would not be represented within this number," he said.

McAfee said the proposed development for the Walton-62 Commerce District is consistent with the city's strategic plan for the area, which includes retail and business amenities close to the interchange and transitioning north to lower density suburban office and residential space.

The development of the Smith's Mill Office Park across the street is indicative of this, he said, with retail uses transitioning into lower-density assisted-living space, an event facility and a day care facility.

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