Ground broken for hotel at The Meadows

December 11, 2013
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Rick Shrum / Observer-Reporter
Bill Paulos, principal of Cannery Casino Resorts, said the addition of Hyatt Place will “lengthen the day” for patrons at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Order a Print
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Rick Shrum / Observer-Reporter
Fred Branovan, president of Meadows Hotel Associates, said Hyatt Place will help make the racing and casino complex “a destination where you can spend the day, have fun and not leave.” Order a Print
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An artist's rendering of the Hyatt Place hotel planned at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

It would have been a super day even without Mel Blount, Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris.

“Today is the culmination of a promise we made to the state, Washington County and North Strabane Township almost nine years ago – that we not only would make The Meadows an attraction, but a destination.”

Bill Paulos said that Wednesday morning during the groundbreaking for the Hyatt Place hotel, the first baby step of the latest leap toward achieving that objective.

He is the co-founder and principal of Las Vegas-based Cannery Casino Resorts, owner of The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, and is thrilled about the opportunities the 155-room facility will afford customers, visitors and tourists when it opens – targeted for spring 2015.

The first Hyatt in Washington County, to be built on four acres near the front of the racetrack/casino complex, will provide stayover options for those who favor horses, slots, table games, outlets, malls, fine dining and/or historical sites.

The Street at The Meadows, a retail/apartment complex with four outparcels for dining, is expected to augment the “destination” goal. That project, still in a planning mode, will be built below the hotel, off Racetrack Road.

“You will be able to spend the day here, have fun and not leave. When you park your car, you won’t need it anymore,” said Fred Branovan, president and chief operating officer of FFC Capital of Pittsburgh. He also heads Meadows Hotel Associates, a privately owned hotel development firm from downtown Pittsburgh.

He declined to give an estimated cost of the project.

Steelers luminaries Blount, Bleier and Harris were among a crowd of 60-plus. They converged, mercifully, inside a large tent on the Hyatt site where Paulos and Branovan spoke along with John Cantele, a Hyatt senior executive.

That preceded an arctic-like ceremony that, if it hadn’t featured loose earth, would have evolved into shovelbreaking instead of a groundbreaking.

There will be 147 guest rooms and eight three-room/two-bedroom luxury suites in this hotel, to be built by Design Builders of Steubenville.

The hotel will feature:

n A skywalk connecting it to the casino;

n Complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout;

n About 1,800 square feet of meeting space;

n An ornate bar, bakery/cafe, a 24-hour fitness center and an indoor pool.

“I have no doubt this will be a flagship for Hyatt,” said Cantele, senior vice president of Hyatt Place and Hyatt House, adding that his chain is in the midst of an ambitious expansion nationwide.

Paulos is pleased with where The Meadows and surrounding vicinity are today, and where they appear to be heading. Many of his visions and hopes have gone from grandiose to grand over the past nine years.

He is eager to point out that when the Hyatt is completed, there will be more than 1,000 hotel rooms within five miles of the complex, and that “approximately a billion dollars in development has occurred along Racetrack Road since we started here.”

“This hotel,” Paulos said, “will give people from 300 miles away an opportunity to see all that Washington County has to provide, with The Meadows as one of the main attractions.”

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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