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Room to grow in Butler for hotel accomodations

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Whenever an event like this month's Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival draws tourists to Butler, hotels in the area fill up immediately.

“Our hotels enjoy a very high occupancy rate. There's no other place for to people to go. There are not enough rooms when things are busy,” said Ed Kirkwood, manager of Butler Township.

Kirkwood said he met tourists at the festival who stayed as far away as Cranberry and Beaver County. By then end of next year, the township is expected to have two new 80-room hotels.

Last week, Horizon Properties of Canonsburg announced it plans to build a five-story Hampton Inn on 1.7 acres behind Mikan Volkswagen on New Castle Road. The car dealership owns the land, which is zoned for commercial use.

Kirkwood said he anticipates that Horizon will have final approval by the end of August.

Developers have said they plan to start construction of the Hampton Inn in October and finish one year later.

In April, township officials approved construction of a four-story, 80-room Holiday Inn Express on North Duffy Road, which is about a quarter of a mile from the Hampton Inn site. It will be complete by next summer, Kirkwood said.

Butler Township now has a Fairfield Inn, a Days Inn, a Motel 6 and a Comfort Inn.

Jack Cohen, president of the Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau, said a lack of hotel space makes it difficult to attract some large events.

“This area has needed more hotel rooms for a long time,” he said.

During the second week of August, thousands of Pyrotechnics Guild International members will come to Butler County for their annual convention.

“We had to partner with Lawrence County to make sure there's enough hotel space,” Cohen said.

Lodging in Butler County also has proved inadequate for people in the Marcellus shale industry, who often come from out of town, Kirkwood said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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