|Gering hotel construction to begin soon|
|November 04, 2016 Jerry Purvis|
Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Brian Wogernese (right), President of Cobblestone Hotels, presented Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman with a commemorative shovel during the groundbreaking ceremony on the new Gering hotel.
It was windy and chilly the morning of Nov. 2, but Gering officials still made their way downtown to break ground on a new Cobblestone Hotel and Suites, expected to be open in the summer of 2017.
Cobblestone was formed in Wisconsin in 2008 and the company just broke ground on its 82nd hotel in Idaho. There are 12 facilities in Nebraska.
“Nebraska has been a great state for us,” said Brian Wogernese, President and Co-Founder of Cobblestone Hotels. Everyone has been thanking us for coming, but it wouldn’t have happened without their support. I should be thanking them.”
Wogernese said the company now has some good name recognition in its big states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. “We’re not a big brand, but we’ve been doing a big push this year to get our name out there.”
He said the Gering location was a good one because of the strong tourism market and because of its prime location across the street from the Gering Civic Center.
“The Civic Center hosts more than 700 events a year and that requires housing,” he said. “Plus it’s been a while since Gering had a hotel.”
The paperwork for the project is currently being completed and construction is expected to begin in about 45 days.
“We’ll be working during the winter, but that’s OK because we’re from the Midwest and are used to that,” Wogernese said. “It should take about seven months to complete, so we’ll try to be open next summer.”
Wogernese said during construction, they plan to have about 12 full-time equivalent employees, or around 15 to 20 total. The big impact will be on the economy as they live and shop in the area.
“It’s taken a couple of years to put this project together, but the partnership has been great,” said Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman. “City staff, developers and investors have put countless hours of work into this, and this project wouldn’t have been possible without them. It’s a great example of a public-private partnership.”
The additional room space will also make Gering more attractive to organizers of larger conventions and conferences on the state and regional level.
“Between the Civic Center and the Weborg Centre, we have two of the area’s premiere conference centers here in Gering,” Kaufman said. “This hotel will help everybody and I think other business opportunities can spin off from this.”
Kaufman added that smaller communities have to compete for business with larger ones, so it’s harder to get major projects like a hotel done. He said it’s just a start to a revitalized Gering.
“We have a lot of things coming up with the downtown revitalization project and the renovation of the ballfields in Oregon Trail Park,” he said. “We see a lot of opportunity for businesses to grow in our community and look for good things in the future.”