Construction to start soon on new hotel in downtown Bristol

BRISTOL - Construction on a new boutique hotel in downtown Bristol could begin soon. The Virginia-based developers, Creative Boutique Hotels, told us they've bought two of the properties they'll use for The Sessions Hotel. They purchased the old Owen Equipment Company building and Jobbers Candy Company building.

They still have to close the deals for the old Simply Grand Flour mill building and the KSS Instructional Aid store. We're told those purchases should be finalized by the beginning of next week.

The developers told us they'll connect the Owen Equipment and Jobbers Candy buildings to the Simply Grand Flour mill building to create a 70 room hotel with a spa and restaurants.

"We're using everything about the buildings we can use," said architect Hal Craddock, with Creative Boutique Hotels.

Despite being old, the buildings still have good floors and structure, said Craddock. The developers plan to use, and restore, as much as they can.

"We're going to use the equipment in the mill building to create art out of that equipment," said Kimberly Christner, with Creative Boutique Hotels. "We're going to have granary shafts in the guest rooms and the windows are going to be original in some places."

Christner told us they hoped to have all of the buildings purchased by February 2014. The delay in closing these deals means they will not open by Spring 2015 as originally intended, she said. Once the group has secure the final two buildings, they plan to start construction. It will include knocking down the KSS building.

"It's not a contributing building to the historic part of downtown so we'll raze that and that will be the drive-in part of the plan," said Christner.

Employees with KSS told us they will relocate the store.

The project is expected to cost around $20 million. The developers told us they'll use tax credits to make up for some of that amount. They also hope to have about $3 million in local investments. When the project was announced, the city offered a $1.2 million dollar contribution.

Local businesses have told us they're looking forward to the completion of the hotel. At State Line Bar and Grille, owner Amy Booher, said they think it will create more business.

"The more people downtown, the better," said Booher. "It's going to create a better community and a tourist destination for downtown Bristol."

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