With the spate of new businesses opening up in Hillsboro in recent months, the current status of one proposed business — a Marriott Hotel including a retail plaza that at least at one time was to encompass 30,000 square feet and include, “a bank, five or six restaurants, second-floor office space” and a Buffalo Wild Wings-esque sports bar situated at the corner of Harry Sauner Road and S.R. 73 in Hillsboro, remains ambiguous.
Julie Bolender, who in May of last year was appointed Highland County Economic Development Director, said that she is, “Not in a place to confirm anything right now,” in regard to the proposed development.
In a Sept. 13, 2021, Hillsboro City Council meeting, Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott reported that the Marriott project was still in the works, and said, “I believe they’re still working with the county and the state on funding. She said a promissory note had been extended for the project through Dec. 30 of last year, having noted various, “project delays” previously invoked by the coronavirus pandemic.
In January 2021, the Times Gazette reported that a resolution was approved by city council to advance from unencumbered general funds the amount of $200,000 for the agreed upon payment for infrastructure on the project and that, “The resolution withdrew prior authorization to use TIF funds for the project.”
In October of 2019, Hillsboro City Schools board members approved a 25-year tax increment financing district (TIF) pursuant to the multimillion dollar project’s proposal and following advocacy to that effect by the developers.
At a January 2021 city council meeting, it was reported that Abbott stated that the promissory note had been signed by the developers insuring that if the bonds didn’t sell in six months, that the money would be, “paid back to the TIF funds.”
At the same time, Abbott said, “In the current climate of COVID-19, an attorney for the city recommended a promissory note be included to protect the city from loss in the event the Marriott project didn’t go through.” She also said she, “didn’t foresee any problems moving forward.”
Abbott said this week that, “At this time, we do not have an update on the Marriott project. They are currently working on state and county funding.”
In July 2020, developers including Ankur Patel unveiled the tentative plans for the project in a presentation, and at that time stated the project was, “expected to break ground in spring 2020.” Patel revealed that the project was anticipated to take 12 to 14 months to complete.
Hillsboro Mayor Justin Harsha said that the developers are currently in the process of, “seeking state funding for the project,” and that the city, “hopes to have more information soon.”
Patel did not respond to requests for information.
Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.