Hotel celebration justified, but more work to be done

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 31, 2003

Suffolk Mayor E. Dana Dickens III, City Manager Steve Herbert and other officials who worked tirelessly for the past several years to have a hotel/conference center constructed at Constant’s Wharf were justifiably proud and no doubt felt a sense of vindication Thursday afternoon as the long-awaited ground breaking was held for the Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center.

Many in Suffolk said Thursday’s event would never happen and that Suffolk would be better off if it did not. &uot;Persistence,&uot; &uot;hard work,&uot; &uot;tenacity&uot; and &uot;vision&uot; were some of the terms bandied about Thursday as officials patted each other on the back for proving the naysayers wrong.

Touted as the centerpiece of the downtown revitalization plan, the facility is expected to drive a flood of visitors to downtown Suffolk when it opens sometime in early 2005. It is likely that the hotel project will deliver all that its backers have promised.

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Likely, but not guaranteed. As hard as officials have worked for the past five years to see to it that the hotel will be built, building it is only half the battle. It must be successful and simply erecting a building will by no means guarantee success. Those who have toiled so hard for so long will have to continue to do so.

And not just city officials. Virtually every person in Suffolk has a stake in the success of Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center – particularly business and property owners in the downtown area. To see that it succeeds, ‘ incumbent on all of us to see to it that the facility, once completed, is used for conferences, meetings, weddings, parties, etc.

Noble Investment Group, which has partnered with Stormont Hospitality Group to put up the $9 million in private financing to build the facility, will be operating it. Steven Nicholas, Noble’s Vice President, astutely observed Thursday that, &uot;The mission is not over. The tough part starts now.&uot;

So while those connected with the hotel, and all of the citizens of Suffolk, certainly had reason to celebrate five years of hard work on Thursday, there is much work left to be done. That work starts today.