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July 15--Tuscaloosa's hotel landscape is set to grow later this year with the completion of the new La Quinta Inn & Suites off McFarland Boulevard.

Currently taking shape behind the Comfort Suites at 3916 McFarland Blvd. E., the approximately $10 million investment will bring to Alabama the first-of-its-kind prototype for the new La Quinta hotel, said co-owner Ajay Kher.

Kher's family, along with his father, Ajit Kher, have been in the hotel business for about 30 years and currently run the Comfort Suites, which has been in operation since 2006.

Construction of the La Quinta Inn & Suites began construction in May on the former site of the Guest Lodge Hotel & Suites, adjacent to Interstate 20/59. It will feature 101 rooms, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center and other amenities, he said.

The Kher family also operates hotels in Mississippi and has intended to add to its hotel portfolio since opening here a decade ago, Kher said.

Earlier this year, that opportunity arose.

"The city has been growing and with the University (of Alabama) growing, the demand for hotels has been a lot," said Kher, 29. "We were just waiting on the right franchise."

Slated for a December opening, La Quinta & Suites will add to the approximately 3,400 rooms now in use across the city.

According to data provided by Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, the city's visitor recruitment agency, the latest additions to Tuscaloosa's hotel collection were the Hotel Indigo, Home2 Suites by Hilton and the Embassy Suites, all located downtown.

The $27 million, 154-room Embassy Suites hotel, approved by the City Council in 2012, opened in February 2015 on the northwest corner of Greensboro Avenue and University Boulevard.

In August 2015, the $13 million, 113-room Home2 Suites by Hilton opened in the 2600 block of University Boulevard just west of Lurleen Wallace Boulevard South. It was approved for construction in 2013.

The 91-room Hotel Indigo, a $20 million project, opened beside the Black Warrior River in September 2016 after a year of construction.

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.

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