A new hotel adjacent to the Weborg 21 Centre in Gering took another step closer to reality as the Gering Planning Commission gave its unanimous recommendation to forward the project to the city council.
Gering City Engineer Annie Folck said the redevelopment plan to build the new hotel was submitted by Troy and Lisa Weborg. The former Rich’s Wrecking building, directly south of the Weborg 21 Centre, would serve as the hotel entrance with space for a flower shop, a gentleman’s style salon and possible other uses.
Folck said the submitted plan contained a lot of information, including design plans, costs and how much the Weborgs are asking in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the project.
“All of those things will be considered by the city council and the Community Development Agency,” Folck said. “What the Planning Commission is charged with is to determine whether the project as a whole conforms to the city’s new comprehensive plan.”
She said their goal is to make sure the city isn’t allowing TIF money to be spent on anything that’s in direct opposition to what the city has set forth as overall goals for the community.
The Weborg’s proposed project is a 32-room hotel to be built directly west of the former Rich’s Wrecking building, which provides a panoramic view of the Scotts Bluff National Monument.
The entrance would be from 10th Street in Gering, which had been partially developed as an industrial corridor. Currently, the area is zoned for business and commercial uses, which fits in with what the hotel would be.
The project would also support the revised comprehensive plan by encouraging the creation and growth of local business while supporting economic development.
“The comprehensive plan also speaks to making design improvements to the city’s commercial districts,” Folck said. “This project is a significant improvement over the property’s current usage. It’s the recommendation of staff that the Planning Commission forward a positive recommendation to the city council.”
Lisa Weborg, who owns the Weborg 21 Center and the Steel Grill, spoke to members of the Planning Commission about the project.
She said the idea goes back to 2016 when a feasibility study showed the need for a new hotel in the community. Unforeseen circumstances caused them to table the project until this year.
“Because of the cost, we won’t be able to do this without TIF funding,” she said. “My goal in the future is also to implement more landscaping like trees and greenery on that route to make it friendlier.”
Planning Commission member Jeff Allen complimented the Weborgs for their entrepreneurship, but wondered how the hotel would be different to draw in more business.
Weborg explained that the 32-room hotel will include a second and third floor that will feature two-bedroom suites that will include a kitchen and dining room. Another eight rooms, also with full kitchens, living room and bedroom, will be used for extended-stay guests.
TIF is used to finance the public costs associated with a private development project. Property taxes from the increased valuation can be captured for up to 15 years to finance eligible improvements.
Total TIF dollars available for the project is $960,000, although the Weborgs expect to spend about $821,000 for eligible expenses. The total cost of the project will be about $7 million.
With the Planning Commission’s approval of the resolution, the recommendation will be taken up later by the Gering City Council before construction on the hotel project can get underway.