State College company breaks ground on $14M hotel at HIA
Construction of a $14 million Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel at Harrisburg International Airport in Lower Swatara Township, the airport's first hotel, is now underway.
State College-based Shaner Hotel Group, a hospitality developer behind several midstate Courtyard by Marriott hotels, including one in the Hershey area, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday afternoon. Site work has already started for the 120-room, four-story hotel, which has been in the works for a few years.
Shaner President Plato Ghinos said the new project, being built by East Lampeter Township-based High Construction Co., should take about a year to complete. He expects the Fairfield will not only attract business and leisure travelers using the airport, but also people driving into the area to visit Hershey attractions and other regional destinations.
Other demand should come from Penn State Harrisburg and businesses in the Harrisburg area, including those doing business with the state.
"It's definitely needed for the airport," Ghinos said, citing steady passenger demand and the expansion of Allegiant Air. "And (HIA) is much closer to Hershey than people think."
HIA provides transportation to more than 1.3 million people each year and 100 million pounds of cargo move through the airport, which houses extensive FedEx and UPS facilities. HIA also serves as a take-off and landing practice runway for presidential airplane Air Force One.
That said, the closest hotel to the airport is about seven miles away.
The new Fairfield will have about 1,600 square feet of meeting space and a full-service bar, Ghinos said. And about 25 percent of the rooms will be larger suites to accommodate family travel and extended stays in the area.
The hotel will be connected to the airport terminal via a walkway. It will be Shaner's fourth hotel in the region, joining Courtyard projects in Lower Allen Township, Shippensburg and Derry Township.
If the airport continues to grow and attract new airlines, Ghinos said there could be opportunity for a second on-site hotel, especially given new development around the airport and Penn State.
The company is planning another Fairfield in Silver Spring Township in the Delta Pointe business park off Interstate 81. That project may not get underway until early next year and could take about a year to complete, Ghinos said.
Shaner has an option to build a second hotel on that site.