Downtown hotel details still unknown

  • PICTURED ABOVE: Construction is quickly progressing on Roberta Green-Garrett’s hotel project in the downtown historic district.
    PICTURED ABOVE: Construction is quickly progressing on Roberta Green-Garrett’s hotel project in the downtown historic district.

As the new downtown hotel rises higher above the historic district, particulars of the project have been slow to emerge.
But one big detail may soon be revealed, according to land owner and local business owner Roberta Green-Garrett.
“We have a franchise in place,” said Green-Garrett when contacted by The Nugget on Monday. “ But we aren’t ready to announce it yet. We will make the announcement in the next couple weeks because we have to have the franchise named before we can start design on the interior of the hotel.”
Mayor Sam Norton said he does not know the franchise.
But he said the condition of naming a franchise is not technically required until Green-Garrett applies for a certificate of occupancy for the property.
“I have not heard of a public naming of the franchise,” said Norton. “None is required before the certificate of occupancy is issued.”
The former home of the century old Parks Building and Butler Building has been the site of a flurry of construction over the past few months as the framework for the three story building and parking deck begins to encompass much of the block on East Main Street.
The naming of a franchise is one of the conditions agreed upon by Green-Garrett and the city council in a consent order approved by the council in 2018.
The controversial project has been an issue of major contention for many of Dahlonega’s residents and officials alike.
One of those voices who spoke out against the project, local businessman Johnny Ariemma was recently voted onto the council in the recent city election.
“A lot of folks may have forgotten that this project was first proposed by the developer as a 50-room boutique hotel with valet service,” he said. “This surely was deceiving.”
The recently elected council candidate was highly critical of the city’s perceived lack of involvement in the project in the weeks leading to the election. Now that he has secured a seat on the council Ariemma said that he will monitor the situation when he takes office to make sure that all the conditions of the consent order are met.
“Who writes a consent order that allows the project to move forward without even knowing what franchise it will be?” Ariemma said. “Why did it have to be a franchise anyway? … I can’t go back and fix the damage done here, but I will monitor that we have accountability in the consent order. As elected officials, we must be accountable to our citizens, not to developers with deep pockets.”
Ariemma also mentioned that he will scrutinize how and why the consent order was agreed to by the council when he takes office.  
“I was not privy to the behind the scenes discussions, but once sworn in I will want to know all that went into this decision,” he said. “Tourism in our town is vitally important to our tax base.”
Meanwhile. Norton told The Nugget that Green-Garrett’s project will not receive a certificate of occupancy unless all conditions are met.
“The builder and owner are in compliance with all consent items at this time,” Norton said. “All items of the consent order will be required to be satisfied for the certificate of occupancy.”
Developer Roger DeBoy has said that the hotel should be complete by the summer of 2020.