HANFORD — Hanford may be at the start of a hotel renaissance.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday to kick off construction activity on a four-story, 80-room Home2 Suites by Hilton on Glendale Avenue east of 12th Avenue.
Another hotel is being proposed by a different developer on Glendale west of 12th in a vacant field next to Hanford Hyundai.
That developer, Anil Chagan, hasn't applied for a site plan review yet, according to Darlene Mata, community development director for Hanford.
Information about the projected number of rooms for Chagan's proposed hotel wasn't immediately available.
Chagan is also proposing an 8,000 square-foot conference center to be built onto the hotel.
Meanwhile, the Home2 Suites is slated to go up on a vacant piece of land between Denny's and the Hanford California Highway Patrol office.
Construction is set to move forward "as soon as possible" after the groundbreaking ceremony, according to Darlene Mata, community development director for Hanford.
The Home2 Suites could open by July 2017, according to Frances Perkins, who said she'll be the general manager.
Perkins is also the general manager of the Best Western Inn & Suites in Lemoore.
Jayantilal Patel, owner of the Best Western, is the developer behind the Home2 Suites proposal.
Perkins said the Home2 Suites is an extended-stay hotel. She said rooms will include a full-size refrigerator, cookware/tableware, microwave, dishwasher, sink, garbage disposal and washing machine/dryer access.
Perkins defined extended stay as more than four nights in a row.
Perkins said the Home2 Suites is different from Best Western and similar hotels in the area and is designed to attract a different clientele.
She said one of the main drivers behind the project is a projected need for room space for federal contractors, military personnel, trainees and others associated with a multi-year expansion at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
The base will house the Navy's new F-35C jet fighter on the West Coast and has already received additional F-18 squadrons.
A boom in industrial scale solar projects has also brought contractors, workers and others into the area needing long-term stays, according to Jenny MacMurdo, Lemoore Chamber of Commerce CEO.
Perkins said that the occupancy rate so far this year for the Best Western in Lemoore has been 87 percent.
"I think there's enough demand [in the Hanford/Lemoore] area for one additional hotel," Perkins said. "I know that [NASL] played a big part in showing [the lenders] that we can sustain and be successful."
Hanford Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Bertaina said he expects Home2 Suites to do well.
"This will really help the [Hanford] recreation department to be able to do some big events," Bertaina said. "People come to all these tournaments, there's no place to stay."
Bertaina said Hanford's hotel growth has stagnated since the Comfort Inn opened in 2000.
"It's been dead since then," he said. "It'll be interesting. I'm looking forward to it."
Developers' renewed interest in Hanford hotel projects has been partly spurred by a zoning rule change last year allowing full-service hotels to be located outside of the downtown area.