ASHLAND, Ky. — Jim Nizzo, co-owner of the Ashland Plaza Hotel building, said community support has been “priceless” as his company works to resuscitate the property and turn it into a four-star Marriott-brand Delta Hotel.
The massive renovation project ignited last fall when Nizzo and his business partner Andy Spiros of New York-based WB Hospitality officially bought the Ashland landmark for $3.6 million.
The businessmen are investing more than $17 million in the renovation project. Work includes the installation of a façade, a complete redesign of the front entrance on Winchester Avenue and the lobby.
The new hotel will have 152 rooms, three more than the building has currently. All the old furniture has been stripped from every room in the building.
Nizzo said Marriott inspectors gave the hotel’s new model rooms a stamp of approval in mid-February.
The aesthetics of the hotel rooms is Ashland inspired. Paintings above the beds depict the green and blue bridges that cross above the Ohio River.
A model room for the Marriott-brand Delta Hotel in downtown Ashland.
The hotel developers also still plan adding a 150-seat restaurant on the first floor along with a bar, and another bar on the second floor. The hotel will employ between 115 and 125 people, according to the developers.
It’s been nearly a year since the businessmen agreed in principle to buy the building.
Since then, the City of Ashland and Boyd County Fiscal Court have created a Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district in downtown Ashland. The TIF district allows the city to capture future increases in city and county tax revenue generated inside the TIF district over the next 20 years, and use it for development projects.
The city is also capturing some increases in state tax revenue inside the TIF district through a state TIF program.
The state TIF funds can only be used for public infrastructure projects, while local TIF money can be used for infrastructure or incentives to businesses.
Ashland agreed to provide a $4.6 million incentive package to the Delta hotel developers, and has already provided a series of bond payments to the company.