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Hotel study report may arrive in January

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Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

The results of a recent study to determine if a hotel would be a feasible addition in Connellsville could be released as early as Jan. 1.

PKF Consultants is conducting the study, which was made possible by a donation from the Latrobe-based McKenna Foundation to the Allegheny Trail Alliance, which hired the consulting firm.

“They came in and talked to some people and some businesses as part of a fact-finding mission,” said Michael Edwards, executive director of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority.

The study and its results will be based on the needs in the city and whether a business venture such as a hotel would be viable.

Edwards said other area hotels were studied as to their occupancy rates, and businesses — like large banquet facilities and funeral homes — were questioned to see if more overnight accommodations would be used in the city if they were available.

Edwards said that with completion of the Great Allegheny Passage biking and hiking trail — expected to be finished from Pittsburgh to Washington next year — those traveling the whole distance may find Connellsville the perfect spot to stop and stay overnight.

“We are about a perfect one-day trip either way,” Edwards said. “There may be more of a demand then for a hotel, when people are making that full trip.”

In addition to those utilizing the trail, the study will include information based on seasonal travel, like treks to ski resorts such as Seven Springs and Hidden Valley, and other destination spots, like Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob.

A similar study was conducted in 2008, but demands for overnight lodgings may have increased since then, Edwards said.

He added that once the results are in, interested developers will be sought in earnest.

“I really feel that a hotel is long overdue,” Edwards said. “I think that a 40- to 50-room hotel could make a go.”

Previous studies showed that those traveling or using the bike trail will spend more money in the city if they stay overnight.

“People may stop now and grab a sandwich for $10. But if they stay here overnight, they would then be spending more money,” Edwards said. “A hotel room would possibly be around $100, plus they would then also be buying more meals.”

There is no set site or location for a hotel at the present time.

Edwards said that representatives from PKF Consultants may have the needed information together by Dec. 31 and will then release their findings through the proper channels.

“They'll report to the Allegheny Trail Alliance, who will then share the findings from the study with us,” Edwards said.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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