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Sun., Dec. 21
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New Potsdam hotel planned

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POTSDAM - A new hotel could open next year if a Potsdam couple’s plan comes to fruition.

G2G Inc. plans to site a four-story, 60-room Country Hearth Inn & Suites in Potsdam. The 45,000 square foot, $7.4 million hotel with a 300-person banquet facility will either be at 17 Willow St., next to Mama Lucia’s Restaurant or in Commerce Park, off of Route 11B, according to G2G President Rebecca A. Gerrish.

Mrs. Gerrish and her husband, Jeffrey, founded G2G about a year ago. They are still finalizing financing for the hotel and expect to know for sure about its reality by this summer.

Mrs. Gerrish said she hopes construction could begin later this year, with a 2013 opening date. If built, the hotel would begin operations with four full-time and 19 part-time positions.

A corporate official from Country Hearth has already traveled to Potsdam and approved either location, Mrs. Gerrish said. Country Hearth has over 50 locations in 22 states, according to its Web site. There are no other locations listed in New York state.

Mrs. Gerrish also works as a reading specialist in the Canton Central School District. She and her husband have shared the dream of building a Potsdam hotel for some time and decided last year to found G2G and make it a reality. This is their first hotel project.

A new hotel could help make Potsdam a destination, she said.

“We’re looking to better the community,” she said. “We don’t want Potsdam to be the place you drive through on the way to somewhere else.”

G2G picked Country Hearth because of its willingness to adapt to a franchisee’s wishes. If built, the new location would feature Potsdam sandstone and hire locally where possible, Mrs. Gerrish said.

The village will be working with G2G to secure grant funding for the project. The village’s Board of Trustees this week unanimously authorized the Planning and Development office to provide G2G with technical assistance in applying for federal Community Development Block Grant funds administered through the state.

“We’re obviously happy to do it if we can help,” Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss said.

The grant funding would be less than $350,000 and would fund hotel furnishings, Mr. Hanss said. He said Mrs. and Mr. Gerrish were “very far along in the process” toward building a hotel.

A new hotel is a top priority listed in Potsdam’s new Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. Mr. Hanss said families of Potsdam college students often have to travel to Malone or Cornwall, Ont. to stay overnight during busy weekends.

“It’s really creating a good opportunity to be retaining some of the lodging business that we may be losing to other communities,” Mr. Hanss said of G2G’s plans. “For many years, Potsdam has had the goal of seeing a hotel developed.”

Mrs. Gerrish also credited the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the Small Business Development Corporation with offering guidance as G2G drew up plans.

“You don’t have to be a big conglomerate to do something,” shes said. “The biggest thing I would say is not to give up.”

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