Ground is broken for waterfront Hampton Inn

Gwen Chamberlain
From left, Steve Griffin, Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar, Phyllis Iversen Cram, Chris Iversen, Nick Yunis, George Hamlin of Canandaigua National Bank, and Mike Linehan, Yates County Chamber of Commerce, turn over the first shovels of dirt at the site of the Hampton Inn.

A warm breeze blew off Keuka Lake Monday morning as Chris Iversen, investors, and supporters celebrated the ground-breaking for the new Hampton Inn that will be built between the village owned Firemen’s Field and Top of the Lake Restaurant.

To the north of the ground-breaking, heavy equipment was already moving dirt, and Iversen said he’s looking forward to hosting a grand opening a year from now.

Calling the location on Keuka Lake, “A premier site,” Iversen lauded Keuka College, the state, and local officials who worked to help bring the project to the construction stage.

Naming several local officials, investors and supporters, he said, “We look forward to serving you, your friends, family, and guests.”

In his comments, Iversen credited downtown Penn Yan retailer Jim Long with remarking that Penn Yan is “getting a new attitude.” Long explained he feels the community is on the verge of new growth, and residents are optimistic about the future.

Iversen said, “Penn Yan, Yates County, Keuka Lake and the Finger Lakes are on the threshold of a very bright future.”

The start of the Keuka Lake Hotel LLC project had been delayed in mid-2014 after it was discovered that soil conditions will require deeper pilings. Because of that delay, some funds had been returned to investors, but at the time, Iversen said he was sure it was “not a roadblock, just a hurdle.”

The project received final site plan approval at the Penn Yan Planning Board’s meeting Monday, May 4.

Steve Griffin, CEO of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center, who helped with a series of negotiations between municipalities, called the project “a huge, momentous occasion.”

Construction will begin immediately on the 72 room lakeside hotel and is expected to be completed for opening in the summer of 2016. The four-story hotel will include meeting spaces, exercise room, and lakefront patio bar and indoor pool.

The hotel site was formerly the home of the Empire State Wine Company, established in 1886 until it was purchased by the American Legion in 1956. The Georgian Revival stone building was demolished in 1990. Numerous development ideas for the site have foundered since that time. The current effort began with the developer’s purchase of the site in 2013. Village and County officials welcomed the plans for the proposed lakefront hotel, citing the anticipated attraction of visitors and business group meetings to the Penn Yan area.

The project is the recipient of a $750,000 incentive award from the NYS Regional Economic Development Council’s latest round of funding. The agency provides resources for projects focused on community development, job creation, tourism and waterfront revitalization. Once opened, Hampton Inn Penn Yan will provide an estimated 25 new jobs to the Penn Yan area.

The Hampton Inn Penn Yan will be locally owned and operated under franchise license agreement with Hampton Inn, a part of Hilton Worldwide, a leading global hospitality company.

Hampton Hotels are designed to accommodate both business and leisure travelers with amenities like complimentary hot breakfast with fresh-baked waffles, complimentary Wi-Fi and friendly customer service, which contribute to Hampton ranking as a leader in its market segment. The hotel will additionally feature Hampton’s Perfect Mix Lobby, designed with a variety of seating and lighting options as an extension of the guestroom.

Iversen has also developed the Birkett Landing apartments on Water Street, and is working on another project at the former Penn Yan Marine site to build nearly 40 residential units and a boat basin.