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July 14--Walls are rising on a new hotel in South Jacksonville that should be open early next year.

Bob Patel, who has owned and operated the Star Lite Motel in Jacksonville since 2000, is having a Sleep Inn & Suites built on South Main Street next to Comfort Inn.

Patel said the foundation of the Sleep Inn was finished in June and the walls are being raised. He said the exterior will be stucco with some stonework around the entryway.

When completed, the three-story hotel will have 65 guest rooms, swimming pool, meeting room, fitness room, breakfast area and a rear patio with barbecue grills.

Patel said the hotel is a new Sleep Inn & Suites design.

"The new Sleep Inn hotels have more amenities than the older Sleep Inns," Patel said.

He said he likes the Jacksonville area and decided to build a hotel in South Jacksonville because of its proximity to Interstate 72.

"There is growing traffic flow through South Jacksonville, and we believe we will get a lot of travelers who will want to stay at the Sleep Inn & Suites," Patel said.

The new hotel will have about seven full-time employees and around five part-time staff members.

Patel's son, Bishap, will manage the hotel.

Sleep Inn & Suites is owned by Choice Hotels International, a holding corporation based in Rockville, Maryland. Among the hotel and motel brands the corporation owns are Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn and Econo Lodge.

Greg Olson can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1224, or on Twitter @JCNews_Greg.

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