MORGAN — Morgan County finally has its first hotel, 165 years after pioneers settled the community.
Ogden investors Scott Parkinson and Kevin Glasmann bought land on Morgan City’s Commercial Street in 2008 and it took 12 years to see a hotel built on the plot.
“It’s been a long and difficult project,” said Parkinson, a retired senior vice president of Bank of Utah, who said he’s always dabbled in real estate.
He and Glasmann, whose family owned the Standard-Examiner until the late 1980s, are the lead local investors in the project, which resulted in the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites opening on Dec. 4.
The 56-room, three-floor hotel is the centerpiece of activity in the redevelopment district on Commercial Street, Morgan City Manager Ty Bailey said.
A city redevelopment agency incentive of up to $990,000 over 10 years, based on increased property values, was approved for the hotel, Bailey said.
“They’re using their own bare ground,” he said. “They built a brand new building that will generate a significant increase in property tax.”
The Morgan School District and Morgan County cooperated in formulating the tax incentive, Bailey said.
Smaller businesses also have received RDA incentives along Commercial Street, resulting in something of an improvement boom in the little historic district.
“Three or four vacant buildings there are now going to be occupied,” Bailey said, housing offices, a restaurant, a river float trip business, a local newspaper and a gym.
The hotel will serve outdoor recreationists such as those at East Canyon and Lost Creek reservoirs, Snowbasin and other ski resorts, and on Weber River floats.
Bailey said having local investors behind the Morgan hotel project “changed the game” for a growing county that until now had lacked accommodations.
Pioneers settled Morgan in 1855. The pastoral but rapidly developing area is bisected by Interstate 84, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Weber River.
The Great Recession sidelined the hotel investors’ plans in 2008, but they were able to see the hotel built this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result of their relationship with Cobblestone.
The Midwestern hotel company specializes in smaller properties in smaller towns. Its two most recent hotels before Morgan’s are in Soda Springs and Victor, Idaho.
Before the local investors found Cobblestone, they approached other hotel companies with the idea of a hotel of 60 or so rooms in Morgan.
“They almost laughed at us,” Parkinson said. “Sixty rooms is pretty small in that world.”
The Cobblestone company, based in Neenah, Wisconsin, said in a news release the Morgan hotel aims to serve business and leisure travelers with “big-city quality and hometown values.”
Efforts to contact the local hotel’s general manager, David Smith, were not immediately successful.
Parkinson said opening a hotel during a pandemic may seem risky, but “people are still traveling by car” in this time of COVID-19.
“We’re on I-84 and hopefully we will be OK until something happens with the pandemic,” he said.
He said the Cobblestone should attract Snowbasin skier visits, and it’s a welcome improvement for Morgan High School’s sports programs.
Visiting teams from Utah’s far reaches now can stay in Morgan rather than Layton or Ogden, he said.