The owners of the motel project are Dr. Veerinder Anand, an orthopedic surgeon based in El Centro for 17 years, and his Las Vegas-based development partner, Rick Desai.
Anand and Desai were in town Friday, accompanied by city officials and other community and business leaders, to break ground on the project.
Anand said the motel has been nearly two years in the making. He said it started when city officials came to him and asked what plans he had for the empty lot along Main that he purchased 10 years ago.
Anand said he was asked if he would be interested in having a motel built on the site. After studying the issue, Anand said, he and his partner determined such a project could succeed.
Anand said he bought the property because he saw potential for development there.
"Right here nothing has been done and there was potential," Anand said, adding not only is the site at the western edge of town, but Westmorland is the first Imperial County city that visitors will enter as they travel south on Highway 86.
Construction on the motel is expected to start in the next week, and the project could take about nine months to finish.
The motel will feature 50 rooms and an in-door swimming pool and Jacuzzi.
Mike Gaston, Westmorland's RDA director, said the city will see $90,000 a year in transient occupancy tax through the motel and another $25,000 in tax increment revenue for the RDA.
The funding will go back into the RDA to help fund future projects.
Gaston added the project is important because it will remove an area of blight in the city, which is a key goal of the Redevelopment Agency.
About 80 percent of the city is within the boundary of the RDA, which means funding can go toward improving projects throughout the city.
Gaston said the RDA for this fiscal year had more than $400,000 available for projects. With $200,000 going to the motel project, that leaves a similar amount available for future projects.
It is hoped the motel will help attract other businesses such as a fast-food restaurant, and the RDA could have a role in the effort to attract such a restaurant.
"This is a very significant project for the Westmorland Redevelopment Agency and the city of Westmorland," Gaston said.
He added, "It will put Westmorland on the map."
Councilman Tom "Bud" Landrum said the project is a sign that the city is "open and receptive" to business.
Landrum added once the motel is built the city will no longer be a lone island in the Imperial Valley.
Of Westmorland, Landrum said, "I see it growing. It's got to grow. We have to have progress. We can't regress. We have done enough of that for 40 years."
Westmorland resident Joel Hamby, a former city councilman who is now a consultant on the city's water and wastewater expansion projects, said the city can grow.
"I have a pretty good feeling this is going to spin-off to other things," Hamby said, adding growth in the city may not occur as a landslide, but growth will take place over time.
"I think we have the potential to double our size in the next 20 to 30 years," Hamby said.
>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.