A developer has announced plans to construct a new hotel and convention center near Interstate 70 in Hays, with a shopping center and restaurant also anticipated in the future.

Wichita-based hotel developer Raju Sheth is in the process of working with city and economic development officials on plans for a 100-room Hilton Garden Inn and adjoining 8,000-square-foot convention center. The hotel also would offer an in-house lounge and restaurant.

It would be located just behind Walmart, 4301 Vine, in the proposed Ottley Addition. The Hays City Commission is set to vote on annexing the undeveloped property into city limits at Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. meeting. Sheth said the land purchase currently is under contract.

“We have been considering it for the last few months and have been talking to the city and everything to see how it goes,” Sheth said. “And everybody was very excited, and I said let’s go for it.”

The hotel development firm, Hays Hotel LLC, is in the process of requesting Tax Increment Financing and Community Improvement District incentives. Applications have been filed and the city commission is set to begin reviewing the project at next week’s work session, Hays City Manager Toby Dougherty said.

The city’s bond counsel has been working behind the scenes to ensure any incentives requested are in line with city and state policy, he said. The TIF request process could continue through April, and Sheth said he is hoping construction could begin around May.

“It’s an extremely lengthy process,” Dougherty said.

Sheth — who said he has developed approximately 10 hotels — also wants to develop a shopping center and sit-down restaurant near the same location. That would be a separate project, and if all goes well, he hopes that process could begin within a year after the hotel is complete.

“It’s in the plans,” he said.

Melissa Dixon, director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the addition of a new convention center would enable the city to recruit more conferences and large group events. The city has been without a convention center since the closure and demolition of the Ambassador hotel — a former Holiday Inn — on Vine Street. The hotel reportedly had fallen into disrepair years before its closure.

"We're really feeling the absence of that facility. There's regional and national groups we used to host that we can't anymore," Dixon said. "So it would be really great to get them back, and we could just host, in general, large-sized groups and conferences.

"There have been bids I've had to decline because we don't have enough hotel (space) to host them. ... We want to be able to compete with our competitors."