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By LEANN BURKE at Dubois County Herald

JASPER — Action resumed on the River Centre development today during the groundbreaking for the Fairfield Inn and Suites that will be part of the $30 million development.

The River Centre development will sit on the north side of the Patoka River on the old Jasper Cabinet property at Jackson and Second streets. The hotel will be built in the kiln building and will be an $8 million investment by General Hotels Corporation of Indianapolis. Work on the structure will begin soon.

“We’re going to be driving piles soon, so you’re going to see the corner change fairly quickly,” said Jim Dora, president and CEO of General Hotels.

Dora said the Fairfield Inn will serve as a complement to the hotels already in the city and will serve as another way to attract visitors to Jasper. In the hotel business, he said, there may be competitors, but they’re working together because it takes multiple hotels to fill a city’s needs.

The 84-room hotel will cater to business travelers. Guest rooms will feature spacious suites with separate areas for working, relaxing and sleeping as well as in-room mini-refrigerators and microwaves. Additional hotel amenities will include free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business center, a small meeting room, a daily hot breakfast, coffee and tea service, a swimming pool, a whirlpool, a fitness room and a 24-hour convenience store with snacks, drinks, toiletries and other items.

The hotel is scheduled to open in summer 2018.

“We’re going to welcome everyone when we open the hotel,” Dora said. “And we’ll welcome everyone to visit as much as they’d like.”

As a whole, the River Centre development will include more than 75 apartments, retail space, improvements to the surrounding riverbank and roads, over 200 parking spaces and the Fairfield Inn and Suites. Jane Hendrickson, owner of Indianapolis developer Boxer Girl, is still finalizing tenants for the retail spaces.

Hendrickson announced the plans for River Centre in October 2015, and work on the development began with demolition in February.

“There was a promise of new development and life in downtown Jasper,” Hendrickson said.

Construction on the mixed-use building that will house the apartments and retail space is scheduled to begin mid-2018, with the opening in 2019. Krempp Construction of Jasper will work on the project with Cripe Architects of Indianapolis.

River Centre is one of several projects underway in Jasper. Mayor Terry Seitz estimates more than $200 million worth of public, private and philanthropic projects are underway in the city. Seitz told a story at the groundbreaking today about a conversation he overheard at a recent Dubois Strong meeting where one board member told another that Jasper would be unrecognizable in three years with all of the projects.

“They may not recognize maybe our appearance, but they will recognize, I’m sure of … our spirit, our hospitality, our personality,” Seitz said. “We have that as a city.”