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Westmoreland

Study: Greensburg's downtown ready for a hotel with 60-80 rooms

Patrick Varine
| Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, 6:06 p.m.
A feasibility study by consultant Tripp Umbach bolsters City of Greensburg and Greensburg CDC officials' case that the downtown area can support a new hotel.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
A feasibility study by consultant Tripp Umbach bolsters City of Greensburg and Greensburg CDC officials' case that the downtown area can support a new hotel.

Visitors to Greensburg have long needed to venture outside the city for a place to rest their heads, but a new feasibility study suggests a downtown hotel would be good for business, and good for the city.

The study by Pittsburgh consultant Tripp Umbach recommended a small hotel with 60-80 rooms be opened downtown.

The city and Greensburg Community Development Corp. hired Tripp Umbach this spring to conduct the $15,000 study, which was an update of a similar study from 2010. A downtown hotel has featured in the city's strategic plan since 2005.

“The city and the GCDC have worked to seek positive results from a hotel feasibility study since 2009,” councilman and Greensburg CDC President Jeff Anzovino said Monday in a news release, adding that the study's results “will help change our downtown and help us with sustainability into the future.”

That sustainability could come about, in part, through partnerships among existing Greensburg entities. The study pointed to the city's pairings with Seton Hill University, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Westmoreland Cultural Trust, Excela Health and local businesses.

“We already have some pretty strong relationships with those folks, and it makes sense to develop partnerships with them to move forward,” said Faye Rosetti, interim executive director for the Greensburg Community Development Corp.

City planning director Barbara Ciampini said the study “proves that we finally have the market (for a hotel) due to our cultural assets, our increased tourism, and the younger population that is now living in our downtown.”

The city and CDC shared the $15,000 cost of the study. Some of the factors that led to the study's recommendations include the following:

• Of about 15,000 tickets sold by the Palace Theatre, nearly half were to patrons living outside Westmoreland County. The study projects the theater's growing popularity will drive the need for downtown hotel rooms.

• A Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau survey found that 39 percent of respondents who visited the area stayed overnight. The study proposed a future hotel partner with the bureau to develop visitor packages.

• Of about 40,000 annual visitors to the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, about 40 percent are from outside the county.

• Between 2012 and 2016, the revenue of Greensburg-area hotels sampled in the study steadily increased by about $2 million.

“The Palace Theatre has advocated for a downtown hotel for years,” said Michael Langer, president of the Westmoreland Cultural Trust, which operates the venue. “I think with the right business model, it would be very successful.”

Rosetti said CDC officials will be talking with downtown property owners about potential possibilities.

“If you look at the area, I don't know that there's a place right now where we could plop a hotel down, but we'll look at pulling some properties together,” she said.

There's been scattered interest in opening a Greensburg hotel for years, according to city Councilman Randy Finfrock, but nothing stuck.

A recommendation from a third-party firm like Tripp Umbach might prompt developers to take a closer look, he said.

“I think it could actually be a cornerstone in the redevelopment of the whole downtown area. We have some vacant buildings that we'd like to see remodeled or renovated,” he said.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the downtown historic district was home to a number of hotels, including the Penn-Albert Hotel on Harrison Avenue, the Stark Hotel on Otterman Street and the Cope Hotel on West Pittsburgh Street.

While a number of hotels are located near Greensburg, the only one within the city limits is the Hampton Inn on Towne Square Drive.

“We used to have hotels in the past, and we've struggled to get where we are today,” Greensburg Mayor Robb Bell said. “But our planning and revitalization efforts are paying off, and hopefully we will soon have a hotel in our downtown again.”

Staff writer Jacob Tierney contributed. Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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