EFFINGHAM — A local hotel wants to attract travelers and will soon add a message board sign below its Best Western sign in the northwest part of Effingham.
The Effingham Zoning Board of Appeals after some discussion decided it was in the best interest of the business to allow the sign variance for the one-sided reader board, due to its location.
The new sign, which is 280 square feet, combined with the existing Best Western sign, which is 200 square feet, exceeds the allowable 300 square feet for the commercial district zone in Effingham.
In total, the two signages will encompass a total of 480 square feet.
The board was approached by Delta Hotel Property regarding its Best Western hotel at 1509 Hampton Drive, Effingham.
“We built that property in 1992 and operated as a Hampton Inn for 20 years, which was very successful for us,” said Mark Wildbur, director of operations for Delta Hotel Property. “But, in 2012, Hilton wanted us to build a new property. During that time, we were bringing in 85-90 percent occupancy.”
He credited the Hilton reservation system and loyal Hampton Inn customers who would seek out those hotels while traveling.
After operating as an independent hotel for a short while, the owners and management came to the decision to renovate and become a Best Western at this location. But, they’ve found that being tucked back in the area on Hampton Drive, Wildbur said the business hasn’t been as successful as he had hoped with about 60 percent occupancy.
“In 2016, we decided to renovate the property and spent about $1.8 million on the property,” said Wildbur.
Wildbur is hopeful that a new, more noticeable sign will help pull in guests from the interstates.
“About 70 percent of Best Western travelers are senior citizens,” said Wildbur. “They don’t make reservations in advance, they just pull off the interstates. If you don’t get their attention when they come off the intersate, they go somewhere else.”
The sign should get the attention of drivers coming from the south side of the interstate. More traffic and attention could pull in more visitors into Effingham, not just a night’s stay at the Best Western.
The hotel proposed that the new message board sign would be in addition, but lower, to the Best Western sign. The sign would give directions and tell guests about amenities of the hotel, too.
The Zoning Board also explained that the message board would have to meet illumination and brightness guidelines set by the city, but agreed that having this additional signage would benefit the hotel due to its tucked away location.
Greg Koester, subdivision administrator, explained that the hotel has a smaller sign at the entrance is also allowable, but non-conforming, because the sign existed before the distance between signs ordinance was changed.