Bristol may soon be able to accommodate more overnight visitors.
LaFrance Hospitality Company has put a sizable downpayment on a 9.6-acre lot along Gooding Avenue for the purpose of building a hotel. The purchase price is $400,000.
State Rep. Ken Marshall, who is part-owner of the property, said LaFrance plans to build a 70-room hotel, which would open in spring 2015. The company’s investment would be about $7 million.
“(LaFrance) thought Bristol is a suitable area for the clientele they serve,” Mr. Marshall explained. “There’s a university presence, manufacturing and tourism, which would give them the consistent flow for hotel use.”
LaFrance is currently undergoing its 90-day “due diligence,” Mr. Marshall said, ensuring the property is build-able and securing the proper permits. Once that period is over, and all requirements have been met, LaFrance will own the property.
“This would be a great economic driver for Bristol,” said Mike Byrnes, co-chair of Explore Bristol. “Those who need a place to stay, would end up going to Swansea or Middletown (if Bristol accommodations were full). That means they’re shopping somewhere else, and eating somewhere else.”
Explore Bristol has been working for over two years to market the town as a tourist attraction, as well as a place to live, work and do business. The addition of a hotel would be good for tourists, but also visitors who are in town for business, Mr. Byrnes said.
“It’s a good start to generating the economic vitality of the town,” he said.
The only hotel in Bristol is the Bristol Harbor Inn, located on Thames Street, which has 40 rooms. There’s also seven bed and breakfast businesses in town, which collectively offer 34 rooms. One, the Point Pleasant Inn and Resort is only open seasonally. It’s closed to overnight guests from November to May.
“We’re very enthusiastic about exploring the opportunity to bring a nationally branded hotel to the Town of Bristol,” said Richard LaFrance, CEO of LaFrance Hospitality Company. “It would be a very natural extension of our hospitality properties in neighboring Southeastern Massachusetts.”
LaFrance owns eight hotels throughout New England, including Whites of Westport.