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Answer Line: 'Fancy' hotels missing along I-20

Oct. 21, 2017 at 12:53 a.m.


QUESTION: Why don't some of the fancy hotels build alongside Interstate 20? It seems that would be a welcoming treat for travelers coming to Longview.

ANSWER: By "fancy," I'm going to assume you mean something like the full-service hotels, with restaurants and conference centers, that have developed along Hawkins Parkway. (And you're right. They're pretty nice.)

I was going to answer you with something to the effect of, "But wait, someone is planning a nice hotel development along I-20." Then, I found out that development has hit a snag, and that snag, I think, at least partly answers your question.

I'll start with a little history: You might recall that a few years back, negotiations fell through between the city of Longview and local hotelier Kevin Hilchey for a partnership to build a conference center and full-service hotel on Estes Parkway just south of I-20. Hilchey is president of Longview-based Lodging Host Hotel Corp.

Hilchey has since announced plans to build a 100-room, four-story Residence Inn by Marriott at the same location. He received a building permit for the hotel earlier this year, but construction has not started.

"While we have found a lender, the lender is requiring a local bank to participate in the loan, and we've been unable to find a local lender willing" to do that, Hilchey said. He and his company have long owned and operated various hotels in Longview and other cities. His projects have all been successful, he said.

"Lenders typically don't give a reason as to why (they won't support a project), but we can only surmise that it's because of the location in South Longview," Hilchey said.

Some positive developments have been seen in South Longview, particularly south of I-20 at Eastman Road. That should help in the future, particularly if a proposed amphitheater is built in that area, Hilchey said.

However, it will depend on lenders being willing to loan money for South Longview developments.

Answer Line will note there also aren't specific incentive programs available for new, commercial construction in that part of town.

Q: Does the Longview Police Department still use the interactive crime map online or has crime just stopped in Longview? Nothing is showing up on my computer.

A: I couldn't get it to work, either, so I checked with police spokesman Sgt. Shane McCarter. He confirmed the site was having problems and referred the issue to the department's information technology folks. It was fixed by Friday, so you should be able to use it again.

Find information about the interactive crime map here: longviewtexas.gov/2650/Interactive-Crime-Map.

Q: Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Longview has bells that chime every hour. What tune do they play?

A: The church's music director, Bill Bane, was nice enough to answer this question for me. He said the church's electronic system plays the "Whittington Chimes" each hour, starting at 8 a.m. until nighttime, with a series of hymns played at 5 p.m.

— Answer Line appears Thursday and Saturday. Email questions to answerline@news-journal.com, leave a message at (903) 232-7208 or write to P.O. Box 1792, Longview, TX 75606.

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