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Ground broken on another hotel near Lexington Medical Center

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A groundbreaking ceremony Friday celebrated the construction of a new suite hotel near Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia.

Solara Hospitality is building a TownePlace Suites by Marriott on Sunset Boulevard, next to its existing property, the Residence Inn by Marriott. The Solara partners saw a need for more hotel accommodations in the area.

“That’s typically our plan,” said Andy Briggs, Solara Hospitality partner. “When we build one, we build a second and a third close to it. This hotel (the Residence Inn) did really well and now we’re sitting here, less than two years, and we’re breaking ground on the next one.”

Ground is broken on Friday for a new TownePlace Suites by Marriott on Sunset Boulevard. (Photo/Renee Sexton)Briggs and partner Clancy Cipkala, Solara Hospitality president and CEO, expected that the expansion of Lexington Medical Center would lead to development in the surrounding area.

“You never know what’s going to be the best spot, but you keep looking at it and looking at it, and all of a sudden you just figure it out,” Cipkala said. “And after 30-some years of being in the business, you kind of get a sense of feeling where another hotel should go.”

Briggs said the cooperation of the city of West Columbia was helped with area development plans.

“They really want us to come in here and really continue to revitalize and just expand this area, and they are a great partner with us,” he said.

West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles attended the groundbreaking, along with U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson and S.C. Rep. Chip Huggins, who represent West Columbia.

“Having seen the product that these developers deliver in their other hotels, we’re very, very excited that they’re building a second location in West Columbia,” Miles said. “Given the improvements that we’ve had in our area and the expansion of the wonderful Lexington Medical Center, we need additional full-service hotels and lodging in West Columbia, and we’re so happy that they’re stepping up to fill that need.”

Solara Hospitality also owns another parcel in the area that it plans to eventually develop into retail space once the hotel is complete.

The $14 million TownePlace Suites by Marriott will contain 111 studio and one-bedroom suites that include fully equipped kitchens along with separate living and working spaces and sleeping areas. The hotel also will include an outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour fitness center, meeting room, laundry facilities and on-site business services. The facility also will be pet-friendly.

Construction is expected to be completed in December. The hotel will operate as a Marriott franchise owned by Lexington 26 Hotel Associates and managed by Solara Hospitality.

This will be the fourth hotel developed and operated by Solara Hospitality in the Columbia area. The company’s $70 million regional investment also includes the Residence Inn by Marriott on Lake Murray Boulevard and the TownePlace Suites by Marriott on Columbiana Drive.

Wilson said he’s watched the Lexington Medical Center corridor grow from his longtime law and congressional office about a mile away on Sunset Boulevard for decades. Miles said traffic improvements along Sunset Boulevard, also known as 378, have sparked development in the area, particularly near the Interstate 26 interchange near the hospital.

“We partnered with the hospital, the Town of Lexington and the SCDOT recently to do some synchronized traffic signals in that location, and we’ve seen great improvements in the traffic flows along 378,” Miles said. “So with the traffic moving better, I think the corridor is going to continue to improve and expand, and we’re excited for all the activity and energy over there.”

Reach Renée Sexton at 803-726-7546.

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