Monticello city hears proposal for a new hotel / restaurant

by Joe Boyle
Staff writer
At the latest Monticello City Council meeting, council members heard pitches for a potential new hotel within the city, received updates on funding for the city airport, and recognized February 8 as a day of hope. 
At the January 24 meeting, county resident Jared Berrett made his pitch for support from the city on a new hotel. He hopes to have the building done by the Spring of 2025. 
The land purchased for the hotel is between Highway 191 and the Hideout Golf course and would hopefully create a mutually beneficial partnership between the golf course and hotel.
Berrett, who created the Bluff Dwellings Resort and Spa, says the new hotel could be a private stand-alone or a name brand. Berrett said he is leaning towards name brand, specifically Marriot, but noted it costs an additional $100-400 thousand to partner with franchise hotels.
Berrett made it clear that the design of the building would not be a visual distraction. Berrett said: “We’re gonna try to blend in. What fits the architecture of the area, What fits with Blue Mountain.”
Berrett said he was looking for four areas of support from the city, those being clearance for a four-story building, a liquor permit for a restaurant attached to the hotel, support from the golf course, and a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) from the city.
There are no building code restrictions that would impede the hotel from being four stories tall. Berrett said a three-story structure would suffice, but to best maximize the land and views, a four-story building would be best.
The hotel tentatively plans to hold 90 rooms with a couple of those rooms potentially being long-stay suites.
The State of Utah currently has a law in place that makes the population of a city dictates the number of liquor licenses available. Monticello is currently maxed out at four licenses with Dougs BBQ, The Grainery, High Deseret Cafe, and Gustavos all having licenses. 
In order to work around this, the city could potentially submit an appeal. Berrett also said the restaurant could be constructed at a later time. 
Berrett asked if he could use the Hideout name with the hotel and stressed the importance of a good partnership with the Hideout Golf Club. “That’s a huge benefit to both of us,” said Berrett. “I need to know from the council [that] we definitely want to talk about that and work with us to promote the Hideout.” 
Berrett explained the need for a CRA because of the uranium mine clean-up work done on the soil of the land purchased. The movement of soil has made the area more expensive and complicated to build on, so Berrett asked the city to consider a CRA so the project can get off the ground. 
When asked by Councilman Kevin Dunn what is the biggest obstacle of the project, Berrett said lending, but he went on to say, “If we have the right project everything will line up.”
Berrett explained other benefits the hotel would bring in, such as Transient Room Tax (TRT) which is used for community spending, as well as hospitality jobs to a county whose second biggest employer behind health care is hospitality. He said it could help make Monticello a “launchpad” to San Juan County.
When stressing San Juan County’s need for a new hotel, Berrett said, “I think Monticello is the best spot. It’s not the only spot, but it’s the best spot for a new hotel.” 
He went on to say he won’t beg the council and will build elsewhere if the city doesn’t show interest. However, the council all showed support for the project. Councilman Nathan Chamberlain said: “We’re stuck in a spot. Someone has to take a step out of where we’re at… I think you having those assets is what the community needs. I would support it.” 
The project will be discussed further in future meetings. 
The council also received updates on a capital improvement plan for the airport from Armstrong Consulting.
Future projects consist of an on-site weather station which received its final approval to be implemented into the Monticello airport, a new light beacon, and rehabilitation of the runway and other services. 
The runway rehabilitation will be done with federal funding as long as the city can meet requirements such as attempting to become self-sustainable, earn money when possible, and be fair to all users.
In partnership with Monticello High School, the city announced February 8 as the “Day of Hope.” The day will kick off a week of school and community events and activities which aims to promote suicide prevention.
During public comment, Doug McLaughlin voiced his support of the city building pickleball courts despite the fact that he has considered building pickleball courts as a private business outside the old ROAM industries building.
McLaughlin also went on to say that he would like city input in regards to whatever he plans to do with the building on Main Street.
The council also briefly discussed creating a position for a current employee or community member to chase down grants for potential projects.
The city also plans to update a number of city policies, starting with employee policies at the next meeting. 

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