The pieces started being envisioned 13 years ago, and while each is needed to complete the puzzle, the one that was placed Thursday afternoon in downtown Sumter may be the most connected one yet.
With the cut of a ribbon in front of 18 N. Main …
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With the cut of a ribbon in front of 18 N. Main St., elected officials, business and industry leaders and anyone working on the revitalization of the historic street saw the grand opening of the new Hyatt Place Sumter/Downtown hotel as a long day coming and day long anticipated.
"When you look at the majority of thriving downtowns, regardless of the size of the downtown, every single one of them has one common interest, and that's accommodations," said Chris Hardy, president and CEO of the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce. "You've got to have that foot traffic. When you have that foot traffic, whether it's a hotel as it is in our case, or residential ownership, that's when businesses start locating here. It's hard for a business to come to an area if they know they're not going to have that foot traffic."
The 93-room hotel, which had a soft opening two weeks ago, is being touted as the main ingredient in the recipe to continue downtown Sumter's upward regrowth trend.
"You have a lot of restaurants, retail shopping on the outskirts ... and it's all within walking distance of the people staying here," Hardy said.
Even just within the hotel, guests can enjoy a fitness center, meeting area, full-service restaurant and bar and a mini-Starbucks.
"We've had a lot of wedding groups so far and family reunions," said Michael Brown, director of sales for the Sumter Hyatt.
He said another central facet of the hotel is to have a place for corporate business partners to stay.
Downtown-goers do not need to book a room to enjoy the benefits of Main Street's newest addition. The 24-7 restaurant, the 15-drink Starbucks menu and the beer-wine-liquor bar is open to everyone.
After breaking ground in January 2017 and moving in this April, it may be easy to look at the finished product and leave it at that.
The idea was sparked before the building was going to be a Hyatt and before any revitalization efforts were realized to the public eye.
Greg Thompson, chairman and CEO of Thompson Construction Group, which built the hotel, credited his wife, Danielle, for the overall 13-year-old vision and for opening Hamptons to get it started.
"Yes, this is hospitality, but we're creating commerce, and this is just the beginning," he said.
Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen said the growth of downtown Sumter has only been possible through doers like the Thompsons and through partnerships between the city and the county government.
"You don't have to say it," he said. "You just have to walk around."
McElveen, Thompson, Hardy and anyone else who talks about the hotel's opening notes while there has been much to celebrate downtown in the past years, they think the Hyatt's opening will be a page turner.
Anyone can certainly walk around to see for themselves, but it still doesn't hurt to say it, either.
"We've actually," the hotel's Brown said, "sold out the last two nights for the first time."
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