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Four hotel projects underway at Indus Hospitality

Kevin Oklobzija February 20, 2020
Four area hotel projects are in the works for Indus Hospitality Group of Penfield, including the first brand-name lodging in the Wyoming County seat of Warsaw.

Indus is targeting a May opening for a 67-room Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham in Warsaw, where the only other motel is the 12-room East Hill Inn on the outskirts of the village.

The other projects include a Hampton Inn & Suites as part of The Strong’s Neighborhood of Play expansion in downtown Rochester, a Microtel Inn & Suites on Route 332 in Farmington and the remodeling and re-branding of Dollinger’s Inn & Suites to a Best Western in the town of Sweden.

While the company’s objective is ensuring travelers a comfortable night away from home, Indus itself apparently never sleeps. The four hotels, along with a new Dunkin’ in the town of Clarkson, will bring the firm’s portfolio to around 60 properties, all in Western New York and the Finger Lakes.

The arrival of the Microtel flag in Warsaw is particularly satisfying for the Wyoming County Industrial Development Agency. Jim Pierce, executive director of the IDA, said coaxing a hotel developer to town had been one of the agency’s goals for about four years. Having lodging is a piece of the overall economic development puzzle.

“We made getting a brand hotel a top priority,” Pierce said. “We’re finally going to be on the map.”

The IDA used “good, old-fashioned direct-mail postcards,” Pierce said, sending them to more than 100 hotel developers. Jett Mehta, president of Indus, took action.

“It was actually a market we’ve had interest in for a while, and the community really wanted a hotel,” Mehta said. “Jim Pierce reached out and took me to the site that he thought would be suitable. Then he introduced me to the land owner (local pharmacy owner Jim Rutowski) and it took about 10 minutes before we shook hands on a deal.”

The hotel will be built on the site of a long-ago closed nursing home and will have 15 employees, Mehta said. A $1 million state Round 5 Restore New York Communities Initiative grant helped pay for demolition and construction. The county IDA provided sales and mortgage tax exemptions.

Indus already had roots in Warsaw, opening a Taco Bell in town last year.

Closer to home, the Hampton Inn & Suites adjacent to The Strong will have 125 rooms as well as a much larger swimming pool than the typical Hampton Inn. Mehta expects an April or May groundbreaking, with an opening in late fall of 2021.

“It usually takes about 15 months to build, then a couple months to transition from a construction site to a hospitality site to being guest-ready,” he said.

Indus chose the Hampton flag, considered mid- to upper mid-scale, because of the reputation and appeal. “That brand was not represented in downtown Rochester and they’re kind of a must-do if there’s a market opening,” Mehta said. “We love the brand, and business travelers love the Hampton Inn because they’re consistent and of high quality. But we think it’s also a great brand for leisure travelers certainly because of price point.”

Construction on the Microtel Inn & Suites just south of the junction of routes 332 and 96 in Farmington will begin “as soon as the weather breaks,” Mehta said. He said approvals are all in place and the first guests should be welcomed before the end of the year.

The final hotel project will be the renovation of Dollinger’s Inn & Suites in Sweden. Built as a Holiday Inn Express around 2000, the Dollinger family converted to a private label 10 years later. The property was sold to Indus in December 2018. The conversion to a Best Western will occur this year.

Indus also developed and operates several restaurant properties, including Dunkin’, Taco Bell and KFC. The latest Dunkin’ will go at the corner of routes 104 and 261, sharing a building that also houses a Speedway. The Dunkin’ will have its own storefront, entrance and dining room.

The shop also will be the first “next generation” Dunkin’ in Monroe County, Mehta said. Included in the package are advanced technologies for mobile ordering, pickup and delivery, as well as a brew house-style tap system, he said.

koklobzija@bridgetowermedia.com/(585) 653-4020