Changes in store for the Worthington Gateway project at 7007 N. High St. include a different Hilton hotel brand, according to the developer.

Correction: Because of a reporter's error, the original version of this story online and in the Dec. 5 edition of the ThisWeek Worthington News incorrectly attributed a statement to city spokesperson Anne Brown regarding a resident's drainage issue at his home. Brown said the resident "has shared his concerns over time by email, phone and at public meetings."

Changes in store for the Worthington Gateway project at 7007 N. High St. include a different Hilton hotel brand, according to the developer.

"There has been a lot that's happened," said Ohm Patel, CEO of the Witness Group, the Lewis Center-based development company handling the project.

Patel presented updates – which included a change in the mixed-use project's timeline, with construction expected to start next year – to Worthington City Council on Nov. 18.

The redevelopment of the former Holiday Inn site was expected to include a 111-room, 4-story Hampton Inn & Suites, with up to five other buildings that would contain 15,000 to 19,000 square feet of office space and more than 20,000 square feet for restaurants and small service-oriented businesses.

Patel said that has changed because Witness was unable to get approval for the Hampton Inn after a planned-use district was approved by the city because of market changes in the area.

"We fought it really hard," he said.

Patel said Witness has looked at a different Hilton brand and settled on Tru by Hilton. He said the newer Hilton brand caters to a younger corporate market.

Patel said the Tru hotel would have the same number of rooms, but it would be smaller overall. The brand is known for having smaller rooms with "lean design" components, including wall-mounted televisions, open shelves for unpacking and minimal furniture, and larger bathrooms, according to hilton.com.

"It's a hotel that's a direct competitor to the Holiday Inn Express, and it's a direct competitor to its own Hampton Inn," he said.

Patel said the hotel caters to one-night corporate guests who want to stay in a more modern environment while still accommodating leisure.

He said Witness wanted to keep the Hilton brand because of the demand the company's reward points drive.

Steve Rosandich, who lives with his wife, Jayne, on Caren Avenue behind the former hotel, are not happy with the brand change.

He said he is frustrated with how the concept of the hotel has changed over time.

Rosandich said he is a pilot and has stayed in a variety of hotels, but he does not like the concept of Tru and doesn't think it is the right choice for Worthington.

"Kids grow up and want some of their luxuries," he said. "Instead of going from the Hampton to a Tru, we should be going from the Hampton to like a Conrad. That would make a lot more sense for Worthington."

Conrad is an upscale brand of luxury hotels and resorts owned and operated by Hilton Worldwide, according to hilton.com.

Rosandich also said he has been frustrated with the progression of the project and described how the construction continues to affect the drainage at his home.

He previously had told the city the project has caused his driveway to flood when it rains and a retaining wall to collapse.

Nearly a year later, Rosandich said, the problems have not been resolved.

"Every single week when I'm home, I have to go down (to the driveway) with 5-gallon buckets because of how he's tearing up my property with the drainage," he said.

Patel said Rosandich's problems had existed before construction on the hotel property started.

He said he has met with Rosandich several times over the past five years, and Witness is "committed to providing a solution." He said the matter needs to be handled privately.

"This is a matter between neighbors that needs to be handled privately," Patel said.

City spokesperson Anne Brown said Rosandich "has shared his concerns over time by email, phone and at public meetings."

"The city has worked with Mr. Rosandich and the Witness Group to try and resolve the drainage issues," Brown said. "City staff has been onsite to inspect the situation, and some improvements have been made in the interim to reduce the drainage onto his property since the old hotel was demolished. Once construction begins on the new hotel, resolving the drainage issue is a top priority."

Patel said despite the changes, the project still will be mixed use.

He said construction on the intersection improvements near the hotel will begin in April and will finish in September, with permanent traffic signals being installed in November.

The mixed-use construction will take place from February to September, with the various sections being completed in phases, Patel said.

He said hotel construction will begin in August and finish in October 2021.

ominnier@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekOlivia