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Lack of lodging viewed as obstacle to attacting visitors, business

October 10, 2012 - Folks have been saying it for years and they said it again at last week's meeting of the Oxford Township Economic Development Subcommittee (EDSC) – this town desperately needs a place to lodge visitors.

Whether it's called a hotel, motel, bed-and-breakfast or inn, the point is Oxford doesn't have a single one and that's a hinderance in some people's opinion.

"We create these great events (like) Celebrate Oxford . . . but people don't have any place to stay in our town," said Holly Bills, executive director of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce. "I actually have to send them to Lake Orion or I have to send them north to Lapeer."

Bills noted how she recently received a phone call from a woman in Oscoda who wishes to visit Oxford.

"We want to make this a destination location, but we have no place for her to stay," she said. "She wanted to come, stay here and see what our town was all about and yet I had to (direct her) to another city. Will she come to Oxford? Hopefully, she will. She's planning on eating at Victoria's Delights."

Bills indicated she probably receives at least 12 such calls each year. "It depends on what's going on," she said. "Sometimes (it's because) their grandchildren are in a play at the school. Or they're coming for Celebrate Oxford."

Having accommodations for visitors is "a huge need," in Bills' view.

"If they don't have a place to stay, they're not going to eat, they're not going to shop, they're not going to play (in Oxford)," she said. "Even a bed-and-breakfast would be a nice addition to Oxford."

Peter Fredericks, who manages the Koenig Sand & Gravel operation along Lakeville Rd., agreed.

About three weeks ago, he was looking on the internet for hotels surrounding Oxford and the closest ones he was able to find were all around the Auburn Hills and Flint areas. Actually, the closest lodging to Oxford is the Palace Inn Orion, located nearly 6 miles away at 2755 Lapeer Rd. in Orion.

Outside of that, Auburn Hills offers 12 hotels ranging from 8-12 miles away, while Rochester offers two hotels, a bed-and-breakfast and a motel.

There were some questions at the EDSC meeting about what was happening with the investors from China who were planning to purchase 56 acres – located south of Ray Rd. and north of the village between M-24 and N. Oxford Rd. – and eventually build a hotel and convention center along with dormitories to house visiting students from foreign countries.

Back in December 2011, these investors signed a purchase agreement for the land, which borders the Oxford High School property to the west and south, but nothing's been reported since.

On Oct. 4, this reporter contacted Realtor Carol Mitchell, an associate broker with Real Living John Burt Realty who was handling the deal, and she indicated it fell through.

"He had to drop out," she said, referring to one of the investors. "He couldn't get the financing at that time . . . That's the only reason. That's all that happened there."

Mitchell noted this Chinese gentleman is currently in town and after hearing about the interest in hotels mentioned at the EDSC meeting, she's going to approach him about the idea.

"That's good to know that they'd welcome (a hotel)," she said. "I will definitely get in touch with him . . . and say, 'Hey look, this is really what the Oxford area wants' and see if I can push him (to take another look)."

Bills noted she has "big companies" call her about doing conventions here, but again, appropriate facilities are lacking.

"Oxford's a nice town, but there's no convention center," she said. "There's no place to have them to stay and have a seminar."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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