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New hotel in Connellsville could tap region's shale, tourism industries

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Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 6:03 p.m.
 

A new hotel constructed in Connellsville could likely tap healthy markets in the region's shale and tourism industries.

That determination was among the findings of a market demand study PKF Consulting of Philadelphia recently completed for the Allegheny Trail Alliance.

A donation from the Latrobe-based McKenna Foundation funded the report.

Michael Edwards, Connellsville Redevelopment Authority executive director, found the report encouraging.

He has begun contacting area developers, and posting the report on the authority and Downtown Connellsville's websites.

“We want to get the word out. It's a positive report. It's something we have a need for in Connellsville,” he said on Monday.

Along with tourists using the popular Great Allegheny Passage, the study noted additional sources of overnight business in the city, Edwards said.

“The bike trail is seasonal. That is reality,” he said.

Research indicates Fayette County has 1,279 guest rooms at 17 hotels, varying in age and quality.

Connellsville area lodging, from the Melody Motor Lodge to bed and breakfast properties, accounts for 62 guest rooms.

In 2011, the Connellsville rooms generated approximately $423,000 in revenue — 1.6 percent of the county's $31.7 million in room revenue that year.

Visitors to area resorts and CSX crews working in the city could find a Connellsville hotel appealing, the study noted.

Edwards said incentive packages can make hotel construction an attractive opportunity for local developers.

PKF representatives visited Connellsville, touring the surrounding area and reviewing historical lodging data.

The study estimated demand potential for 34 to 40 rooms averaging 70 percent occupancy, with an average daily rate of $103.

The study stated that the region's economy, after decades of slow decline, has been reinvigorated “to a degree” by the shale natural gas industry.

A hotel could offer “transient lodging” for workers who require housing during exploration and drilling activity.

“Our research indicates this activity continues to generate substantial demand for lodging in the area which is currently accommodated by local hotels, especially in Uniontown due to its high concentration of lodging and local amenities and services,” the report noted.

Connellsville offers a “degree of area amenities attractive to industry crews, albeit at a smaller concentration.”

The city's proximity to Laurel Highlands tourism spots, including Ohiopyle State Park and Fallingwater, as well as large party events including weddings and reunions, represent potential markets for new hotel stock, the study stated.

Demand for lodging rises dramatically in spring through fall, with the summer months accounting for the highest room revenue.

The study specifically looked at potential hotel demand from users of the Great Allegheny Passage.

“Our research indicates that lodging facilities must be located within three easily-traveled miles of the GAP trail to attract travelers,” it noted.

The provision of van/shuttle services could allow a Connellsville hotel to compete for winter visitors to Seven Springs Mountain and Hidden Valley resorts, the study predicted.

PKF recommendations included a two-plus “star” quality hotel with a business center and storage to accommodate bicyclists' and skiers' gear.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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