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Quinter eyes reopening of lone motel

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

QUINTER -- Fourteen months ago, Quinter lost its motel when the Budget Host motel and Q Inn Restaurant closed.

Now, a new owner has taken over and hopes to reopen the motel and restaurant, said Ericka Gillespie, chairwoman of Gove County Economic Development and also Quinter city administrator. The sale of the foreclosed property recently has been completed, Gillespie said, and she has not yet learned who now owns the motel and restaurant.

"The new owner is hoping to have the Q Inn open, hotel and restaurant, in no less than 90 days," Gillespie said Monday.

In addition, an organization has been formed to seek investors for another motel, which -- if everything goes as planned -- could open in approximately 18 months, said Don Tilton, managing member of Quinter Area Hospitality Group LLC.

Tilton said people in town have talked about needing a motel since Budget Host and Q Inn closed. But, it was just talk.

"I guess I decided to try to get the ball rolling," said Tilton, who was aware of similar groups funding motels in Oakley and Norton.

As of now, there are just two members of the LLC, Tilton and Kayla Goetz.

"At some point, we'll go out and talk with people with money, investors," Tilton said. "We'll form a group of 10, 15, 20 people, whatever it takes, to finance the construction of a hotel."

The organization was not yet formed when there was a town hall meeting to ask for funding for a feasibility study for a motel. Tilton said they had no trouble raising the money. The study just came back, he said, and it looks good.

Tilton is hoping potential investors come through.

"I think there's a group of people willing to take a little risk, put some money into it, see if it will go," he said. "I think it will work."

Tilton and Gillespie agree a motel is needed in town.

"We're looking at taking our share of the action off interstate," Tilton said. "You got to have that, or you won't survive."

Gillespie said a motel offers many benefits.

"We had a storm here recently. We had to put 16 people up in a shelter because we didn't have access to a hotel," she said. "It affects when (the Kansas Department of Transportation) closes the highway based on the number of hotel rooms available. Now, they just kind of skip right over Quinter because we don't have any rooms. We just get the stranded travelers to put in the shelters.

"It also hurts us because just a couple years ago, we initiated a transient guest tax to help with travel and tourism in Quinter. When the hotel closed, of course we can't collect the transient guest tax."

Gillespie said opportunities to host conferences are limited, due to lack of rooms.

She added pheasant hunters who have been staying in Quinter for years called in the fall looking for a place to stay. Then there are the custom-cutters who pass through, with no place to put them.

"It's highly important" to have a motel, Gillespie said.