Arkansas doctor plans Hampton Inn, Suites for Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A developer who submitted an unsuccessful proposal for a hotel adjacent to the convention center is now proposing another hotel just north of the Isle of Capri Hotel.

Dr. Shilesh Vora of El Dorado, Ark., is proposing a four-story, 95-room Hampton Inn and Suites at the corner of Canal and Simmons streets, across Canal from the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

&8220;We keep getting reports from (Tourism Director) Walter Tipton that there aren&8217;t enough hotel rooms&8221; to attract large conventions, City Attorney Walter Brown. &8220;So something like this would be good Natchez.&8221;

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The building might require a variance from the Planning Commission, since the current height limit in the B-2 business zone is 35 feet and the hotel would be 45 feet tall.

But under Natchez&8217;s planning guidelines the developer could simply add more of a setback from the road for every foot the building exceeds the height limit.

A timeline for construction is not yet known. Joe Fortunato, who owns the lot with Noland Biglane, referred questions to Vora, who could not be reached.

The application was considered Wednesday by the Historic Preservation Commission.

The commission tabled action, instead requesting information on hotels the chain has in other historic cities.

Commissioners noted that a special meeting could be held once that information was received.

The commission acts on applications for new building and renovations in historic districts or within 300 feet of a historic property.

But later last week, City Planner Andrew Smith notified commissioners in writing the proposed hotel is actually more than 300 feet from the nearest historic property, so the preservation commission won&8217;t have to act on the matter.

The planning commission will still need to OK a site plan for the project.

Planning commission Chairwoman Deborah Martin did not know as of Saturday whether Vora&8217;s application would be on the agenda for the commission&8217;s next meeting, which is scheduled

for 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the city council chambers on Pearl Street.

Vora&8217;s property wouldn&8217;t be Natchez&8217;s only new hotel. Brown has said the city will enter into an option agreement by Feb. 28 with New Orleans-based developer Thomas Bauer for a hotel across from the convention center.

Vora, Natchez native Glenn Simmons of Atlanta and Michigan-based ProVisions also submitted hotel proposals for that site.