In the modern newspaper era, it is somewhat unusual for a “beat” or “hard-news” reporter to have a regular column. There is a good reason for that. A column typically reflects a writer’s opinion on certain issues and as beat reporters, it is very important to be able to be objective when writing a news story. Opinion has no place in a news article.

My thanks to management here at the Rome News-Tribune for allowing me to make this Word on the Street column. While the Word on the Street section has been a feature in the Roman Record for some time, the essence of it should almost be a column. Since the idea of the phrase “word on the street” is not always a hard fact. It is frequently speculation or conjecture and we, I, want to make sure the readers of the RN-T understand the difference.

So let’s jump right into it.

This past week the Northwest Georgia Housing Authority approved a contract with Rushaya LLC to acquire a little less than one and a half acre at Charlton Street and Martha Berry Boulevard for a new senior housing development in lieu of a proposed Sleep Inn, which residents of the neighborhood were vehemently opposed to.

So does the hotel just go away? Not so fast my friends! Word on the street is that the Chattooga County-based developer does in fact have another site in mind. There is a good chance the hotel could land along the Veteran’s Memorial Bypass, which would be a much better location, both for the community as well as the developer.

The proposed hotel may be somewhat larger than the 52-room unit originally planned for the entrance to Summerville Park and that it may come with a different flag. Time will tell and we expect that to be sooner rather than later.

Who will get new rooms built first?

The next question is who will get additional rooms built first and what flags will at least two new hotels wave? Will it be Rushaya LLC, or will it be Berry College?

Isn’t it strange how both locations are near the Rome Tennis Center? Not very.

Berry revealed several months ago that the college had decided to become its own developer and that a hotel would be located adjacent to the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. But since making that announcement, we’ve heard nothing new from school officials. Nothing about how large it would be, nothing about what chain it will be affiliated with and nothing about a timetable.

You can say the same thing about Rushaya at this point.

What is clear is that both hotels are counting on the tennis center to provide a steady stream of customers. The center has hosted regional ITA NCAA Division III regional action each of the last two weekends and later on in October it will host the national ITA Oracle Cup of small college and junior college players.

The USTA Southern Icy Hot Junior Championships will bring hundreds of teenagers in October 26-28 and the USTA Georgia League Combo championships will be played out locally November 8 through 10.

This year, the center hosted a major event just about every other weekend and that is expected to continue and only grow as the indoor courts are completed allowing the center to bid on even more events. Yes, the indoor courts are essential to major collegiate events in particular.

The Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, last played here in 2017, will be back in 2020 and 2021. That event is bid in two year cycles. If Rome wants a good chance to be successful bidding those tournaments, the next thing that is necessary is the addition of quality hotel rooms, relatively close to the center. ACC and SEC schools, for that matter, are accustomed to putting up their representatives premium property hotels. In fact, when the ACC was in Rome in 2017, we know at least two of the collegiate teams stayed in hotels outside of Rome because of specific brand loyalty and the ability to use or add to rewards points.

Associate Editor and business columnist Doug Walker is always looking for news and tips about area businesses. To contact Doug, email him at DWalker@RN-T.com or call 706-290-5272.

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