Construction is underway on a second Winters hotel

Fairfield Inn groundbreaking. Brandon McCapes/Winters Express

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City officials donned white hard hats and golden-headed shovels to participate in a groundbreaking event for the so-called “freeway hotel” Jan.7. The event marking the start of construction on the long-delayed second hotel in Winters came just days before the grand opening of Hotel Winters. The 72-room Fairfield Inn will be located on Matsumoto Lane directly north of the Starbuck’s Coffee near Highway 1-5/505, and has been touted as an important element to economic development goals outlined by the city. Mike Ali, owner of the property and the adjacent Chevron, said because the hotel is located near the freeway, it will help draw out-of-towners–and their money–to Winters businesses. Ali said attracting travelers visiting Lake Berryessa, Cache Creek Casino and nearby towns like Vacaville, Davis and Sacramento will increase business and much-needed tax revenue for City Hall. “We are very proud that our new business will be a large source of taxes and employment for Winters,” Ali said to a crowd including public safety officers, city staff, City Council members and business leaders. “More and more people are coming to spend their time in our wonderful city and to travel to Lake Berryessa, and we are proud to provide them a place to stay,” Ali said. “With the PG&E training facility, we will have even more people coming from out of town.” Ali has been doing business in Winters for 20 years and owns the Chevron, which is undergoing renovations (when complete the gas station will include a Togo’s). His son Aasim Ali said his family was excited to open the hotel in Winters–a town he predicts will become increasingly important as the housing crisis pushes people from the Bay Area. Aasim Ali also praised the city for its continued support, and said the city had nothing to do with the three years of delays on construction. “The delays were on the development side.The city’s always been very supportive—very excited to help us develop the project in full,” he said. The City of Winters has limited sources of revenue to fund the services it provides, and hotels that bring consumers to town and generate tax revenue will help bolster the city’s coffers.  Cities like Winters collect a 12-percent Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from hotels and short-term rentals like Airbnb–any legal rental accommodations where the renter stays less than 30 days. A city ordinance was passed last fall to require a conditional use permit with a $1820 fee in addition to TOT from Airbnbs after a long and controversial process. Council member Wade Cowan told the Express that TOT from the two hotels will be a steady and sizable source of revenue for the city, with most of the taxes coming from visitors, rather than Winters residents. “It adds to our tax base,” Cowan said. “The TOT Is huge for us.” Cowan also said the business the hotel will likely drive further economic growth by drawing customers to downtown businesses, as well as the commercial area near the freeway–the most productive area in town in terms of sales tax. Mayor Bill Biasi added that these revenue sources are necessary to fund city services and maintain essential infrastructure like water and sewage lines, roads and sidewalks. “This will help finance the basic needs that keep our city running,” Biasi said. “It’ll bring more money to fix these kinds of things everybody downtown—all over town—uses every day.” The City of Winters has been struggling to fund projects due to over a decade of almost zero growth following the economic downturn, according to City Manager John W. Donlevy, Jr. Although the Winters real estate market has seen moderate growth in recent years, and more development is expected, Donlevy has said more economic development will be needed to tackle the extensive list of projects planned in the coming months.  ]]>

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