The new inn to be built at Paris Landing State Park is going to have about two dozen more rooms than originally planned, at a cost of more than $8 million.
Gov. Bill Lee’s budget, which was approved by the General Assembly, contains a provision in its capital outlay fund which includes $8.47 million in new money to be added to the original estimated cost of $26 million.
The former inn at PLSP has been torn down. It contained 130 rooms, but it was plagued by a low occupancy rate — it was only about 31 percent full as an annual average.
State Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, said the addition to the budget will allow for 23 more rooms than what had first been proposed. That will bring the total of rooms there up to about 90.
“I think there was so much concern around here about the big decrease in number of rooms, I think that’s why these rooms were added,” Griffey said. “That will give the inn about a third more capacity than what was in the original plan.”
Griffey also cited the fact that the numerous fishing tournaments at Kentucky Lake prompt a need for at least 90-100 rooms because the bigger tournaments bring at least that many fishermen.
Griffey said it’s his understanding the added rooms will be part of a set-off area — “more or less a separate wing” — that will likely be connected to the rest of the building with a skyway connector.
He said that if looking from the water, that extra wing will be off to the left of the main part of the inn. That would be to the southwest of the main area.
County Mayor Brent Greer said the added rooms will just be an extension of the footprint for the original building.
Greer said county officials have discussed with the state how many rooms are needed for those fishing tournaments, and also mentioned the conference center at the park.
“With sixty-five rooms, that wouldn’t accomplish what we would need to host a small convention out there,” Greer said.
The down side of the additional funding, Greer said, is that the state architect and the state building commission must meet again and approve the new documents now that the plans have changed. Greer said he doesn’t expect those documents to be approved until sometime between July and September.
Ground has not been broken yet at the site, and likely won’t be until perhaps sometime between October and the end of the year.
“Pouring concrete for that massive of a structure is very time consuming,” Greer said. “Plus, the dirt work has been held up until after the building commission meeting.
Henry County is without an inn at the lake for the time being, until the new one is completed. The original completion date was expected to be summer of 2020, but that seems unlikely at this point.
Greer has estimated the county will lose between $500,000 and $750,000 a year in revenues without an inn.
The state is providing a $200,000 grant for the county in the 2019-20 budget as an “impact fee” to help the county make up for those lost revenues.
The state is giving $200,000 to Van Buren County as well, since Fall Creek Falls State Park is going through the same process. Lee’s budget provides an additional $11 million to the Fall Creek Falls project because of cost overruns there.