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New hotel in city takes step forward

| Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

The construction of at least one new hotel in Connellsville took a step forward this week when two Fayette County commissioners voted to authorize the use of funds from the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau to demolish the former Connellsville Bottling Works at 237-239 N. First St., West Side.

Chris Rosselot, project spokesman for Grant Forbes, said the authorization is another step forward in the construction of a hotel along the Youghiogheny River Trail in the city.

The trail stretches 71 miles between McKeesport and Confluence. It is part of the Great Allegheny Passage that allows cyclists to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

Al Ambrosini, county commission chairman, said the move means $50,000 could be provided through Fayette's hotel tax levy for the demolition of the old structure. Demolition for a hotel is an allowable use of the tax funds, according to Ambrosini.

“It's a win-win situation for the city and for Fayette County,” said Ambrosini, adding a new hotel would mean construction jobs, followed by additional jobs at the new hotel. It may also mean more traffic for businesses near the trail in the city, including restaurants.

Ambrosini said a ground-breaking for a new hotel could “be possible before the end of the year.”

A second hotel constructed near the Amtrak station at 225 N. Water St., the site of the former Sidewinders Bar, is also possible. However, work on that hotel site will take more time, officials said.

Ambrosini praised all those involved in bringing at least one hotel to Connellsville, including Linda Boxx of the Kennametal Foundation.

A hotel on the trail will tie in with Amtrak's plans for a proposed service to and from Connellsville on the Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., Capitol Limited set up to carry cyclists with their bicycles. For example, cyclists from Washington, D.C., could take the train to Connellsville, presently scheduled to arrive at 9:47 p.m., and stay at a hotel overnight before beginning their ride back to Washington the next morning.

Michael Edwards, executive director of the Connellsville Redevelopment Authority, said the bicycle/train service could begin as early as April.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at kpolacek@tribweb.com or 724-626-3538.

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