First formally announced during a Friends of Portsmouth “pep rally” held in May, contrary to numerous rumors, plans for a seven-story hotel to be built south of Third Street at the corner of its intersection with Washington Street to the east and Second Street to the south, are moving forward very nicely, according to Portsmouth entrepreneur and developer Ed Newsome.
“Were working on it nearly every day, doing something,” Newsome said.
Speaking to the Daily Times, Newsome added people constantly ask him when he will break ground on the project. He stated in a way, developers already have “broken ground,” in that they recently drilled for soil samples at the project site.
“People were calling me up, asking if we were drilling for oil,” Newsome quipped.
He added planners are waiting on the results of the soil sampling but once those are in hand, heavy equipment should be visiting the site on Washington Street in short order.
Newsome was insistent rumors concerning funding problems are not accurate.
“If anything, it’s just the opposite,” he said, adding he has five offers for bank backing in hand. Newsome continued that unfortunately, in his opinion, there were no local banks capable of handling the project. He therefore went outside of the area and successfully found the financing needed.
According to the developer, architectural and related plans for the hotel are now in the hands of the private contractor who completes design reviews for the city of Portsmouth, which like many smaller area cities, has no in-house review engineers. Newsome did not offer any estimate regarding plan approval. He added developers, dubbed the Brighter Vision Group, LP, at that May rally, put out bids for excavating work. They also have been making inquiries into the cost of various building materials from local suppliers.
The new hotel actually will be a combination of two national hotel chains, Sleep Inn and MainStay Suites. The latter is an extended stay hotel, with added amenities such as fully equipped kitchens in each room. The combined hotels will have a total of 77 rooms: 35 MainStay rooms and 42 Sleep Inn rooms.
Newsome further has spoken of two elevators and a swimming pool.
In May, Newsome said he was not certain, but he believes the new building will be the tallest in Portsmouth. It is the first new hotel in town in 60 years. Newsome has declined to reveal the price of the project but said he believes it to be easily the largest retail investment in Portsmouth in many years.
Does Portsmouth actually attract enough out-of-town visitors to support a brand-new seven-story hotel? Newsome previously answered the question by stating Brighter Vision conducted extensive feasibility studies and he and other investors are fully convinced the potential exists. He added Portsmouth was “on the radar” of a national hotel chain. Significantly, Newsome said the Brighter Vision studies show the already existing Holiday Inn, which basically sits across the street from the site of the new hotel, maintaining its current level of business even after the new facility opens.
On Friday, Newsome said he still plans to use a somewhat newfangled building technique to construct the hotel. He added using traditional structural steel building methods proved cost prohibitive and would have been difficult on the narrow site of the structure. Previously, Newsome talked about bringing in prefabricated concrete units to be built up into the finished building. He stated the construction method results in a building that is up to 90 percent energy efficient. According to Newsome, the individual concrete units are sometimes used as severe weather shelters in southern states.
Newsome has estimated a construction time of approximately 10 months.
Newsome already has a hand in numerous local retail enterprises. Among other concerns, he is the franchise owner of Portsmouth’s Rapid Fire Pizza, Hotheads Burritos and two Subway sandwich locations. He has long ran a car dealership in Minford.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.