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Homewood Suites plays ball at Town Madison

MADISON — It was supposed to be a groundbreaking event with the principles ceremoniously shoveling fresh dirt in preparation for a new Homewood Suites hotel at the foot of the Town Madison interchange.

Instead, the site became a soggy mess after heavy Wednesday morning rains. The spacious concourse at Toyota Field, just a few hundred feet from the hotel site, offered shelter for the event.

The Madison Chamber of Commerce presided over the ceremony, hosting Chris Chavis, president of PHD Hotels who is building the Homewood Suites; Town Madison developer Louis Breland, founder of the Breland Companies; Madison Mayor Paul Finley; and Madison County Commission Chairman Mac McCutcheon in welcoming Homewood Suites to the neighborhood.

(L-R) Michelle Epling, executive director Madison Chamber of Commerce, Ranae Bartlett, President of Madison City Council, Madison Mayor Paul Finley, Chris Chavis with PDH Hotels, Madison County Commission Chair Mac McCutcheon (256 Today)

Chavis joked about the onsite rainout.

“Welcome to the hotel industry, it is something different every day,” he said.

“I consider North Alabama, Huntsville, Madison, Decatur, our second home. We have done seven or eight projects up here and everybody in the community has been so welcoming. It means a lot to us.”

The hotel will have 100 rooms and is categorized as one of Hilton’s upper brands, an extended stay in which every room has a kitchen. The hotel features meeting space, a swimming pool, a firepit, a business center, a guest laundry and new hotel technology – “connected rooms.”

“It’s interesting we are here in Madison where research and development and technology is booming because Hilton has come up with this thing called ‘connected room’ where from your phone, you can control your TV, your air conditioner, and the lights in your room,” Chavis said. “It’s something completely new to the hotel industry.”

He said the venue should open within 12 to 14 months.

Michelle Epling, executive director of the Madison Chamber, introduced Breland.

“He is the man who took this mound of dirt we are standing on now, and turned it into what it is today,” she said in reference to the entire 563-acre Town Madison development.

“This is the third hotel PHD has built here,” said Breland. “They have built a Home2Suites, a Hilton Garden Inn, and now the Homewood Suites.

“Hilton is one of the top hotel brands in the U.S. and they have the largest reservation group, so they do not approve new hotels easily, but they are big believers in Town Madison.”

Finley thanked Chavis for PHD Hotels’ continued investment in the city of Madison.

“You have been up here a lot and found a lot of opportunity, and I think that is a testament to what we continue to do in this overall area,” he said. “We work together to secure solid jobs that truly make a difference for our nation, and in turn make places for them to live. We are always looking to bring businesses of quality to the Tennessee Valley and you’re continuing to bring that.

“While it seems like an easy development world right now, it takes a lot more than just having some land and the ability to imagine it if you will.

“There is a lot of work that needs to get done to close these businesses and bring them to this area, so thank you to your guys’ team for continuing to do that.”

Finley also said Breland had taken him to the mountaintop – Mount Louis, he called it.

“He said, ‘Imagine if you will…’ in reference to his vision for Town Madison,” Finley said.

“And today, we are celebrating our fifth hotel bringing almost 600 rooms to Town Madison.”

McCutcheon recently took over the chairmanship after spending 16 years in the Legislature and serving as Speaker of the House.

“With every groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting I attend in Madison County, partnerships are shown to be key to economic growth,” he said. “Partnerships is what I see every time I come to an event like this, people coming together to put boots on the ground, people coming together with vision, and people coming together willing to invest.

“As I drive around this community every day, I have a sense of being blessed with good people, good values, and a booming economy that is good for the quality of life for our citizens.”

The ceremony concluded not with the traditional shoveling of fresh-turned dirt, but with a prayer from Steve Bateman, pastor at First Bible Church in Decatur.

“PHD stands for Practicing Hospitality Daily and it comes from Romans 12:13,” Chavis said.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”

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