On Friday, after days of record rains in Hays, the site of the planned Hilton Garden Inn west of Walmart SuperCenter looked like a muddy lake with a tractor-scraper sitting idle in the middle of it.

But Hays city officials and Kansas developer Mitesh Patel say the project is a go, and the site is the future home of a four-story, 78,800-square-foot hotel that will have 96 rooms and 8,500 square feet of convention space.

Patel has built an IHOP, a Hampton Inn and a Papa John’s in Hays while living here from 2002 to 2009. When he left and moved to Wichita, he says he hoped he’d be back.

“My kids grew up in Hays, and I still feel like Hays is a part of my life,” he said in a phone interview Friday. “When the former Holiday Inn went under, I came to the city to see if there was a chance to build, and they said ‘yes.’”

The hotel will probably open the end of 2019, he said.

“We are excited about the project,” Patel said. “The people of Hays will have good options for meetings, weddings and receptions. They’ll have a nice space to do it in.”

The Hays hotel is the latest of many hotel and restaurant projects for Patel and his investment partners, who have a $14 million Hilton Garden Inn project underway in downtown Wichita. That one will have a glass bottom floor overhang above an open six-story atrium, he said, of which there are only a few dozen in the world.

“We’re making something real cool in Kansas,” Patel said.

Besides Patel, the other developers in the Hays hotel are Raju Sheth, Wichita, and Minhas Ladiwalla, Dallas, who is president of Mid-Continent Hospitality, which will manage the hotel. There are no local investors in the project, Patel said.

The investors have developed properties in Dodge City, Garden City, Hugoton, Lansing, Hutchinson, Topeka and Wichita. Besides Hilton, they’ve developed IHG, Marriott, Comfort and Choice brands, said Raju Sheth, managing member.

M&D Excavating, Hays, is the dirt work subcontractor on Patel’s Hilton Garden Inn along 43rd Street.

Paras Construction Inc., Wichita, owned by the developers, is prime contractor. Besides M&D Excavating, another local contractor is Zimmerman Plumbing & Heating.

“They’ve been doing work for me for 15 years,” Patel said of Zimmerman. “They follow me all over.”

Sheth said dirt work on the Hays hotel is delayed by the weather.

“The rain is killing us,” he said. “We’d be done with the dirt moving if it weren’t for that. That’s something I don’t control.”

They hope to have the slab done by the end of the year, with framing started at the start of 2019. The hotel will include a 7,000-square-foot main meeting room. And space for 550 people to sit down to a meal, Sheth said. Will it have an indoor pool?

“In Hays, Kansas? Yes, it will have an indoor pool!” Sheth said.

When Patel was asked whether he has an opinion one way or another on the city’s possible construction of roundabout traffic management systems on Vine Street, he said “It’s not going to make us any difference.”

The city on Thursday received the final site plan for the landscaping and parking lot plan, said Jesse Rohr, director of public works. That and the building plan have both been approved, Rohr said. He is awaiting a final storm water management plan, and once that’s completed the city will issue the building permit, he said.

The Hays City Commission in April approved tax incentives for the project. Those include a 2-percent Community Improvement District, with a cap of 22 years or approximately $3.1 million. The CID is essentially an additional sales tax paid on any transactions in the 10-acre development, which may later include restaurants and retail space, said Jacob Wood, assistant city manager.

The city also approved a Tax Increment Financing District for the project. A TIF refunds property tax paid by the property owners. Capped at 20 years or $3.7 million, the revenue pays the cost of infrastructure like water and sewer line, parking lots and streets, Wood said.

The city has also agreed to refund bed taxes paid by hotel guests for 20 years, with an option to extend the agreement. The city’s bed tax is 7 percent.