There is a new addition to University Blvd. in Steubenville, and you won’t soon miss the massive new structure. It’s just phase one of their plans of what Franciscan Square.
Jefferson County Commission President Tom Gentile said that for many years, city and county officials have talked about ways for Franciscan University to come down off of the hill and be more integrated into the community. He said today, that literally and figuratively was done with the grand opening of the four-story Best Western Inn on a 13 acre development at the entrance to the the city.
“It’s a very exciting day here in Steubenville especially for the whole entire community,” said Franciscan University president TOR Sean Sheridan. “Everybody’s been involved in this project and moving forward and helping to beautify the entryway, the gateway, to Steubenville as we come up here on University Blvd., so its exciting to see this project come to fruition after years of planning and implementation. We’re just grateful to God for all that He’s been able to do to help us with this project.”
The university made sure to contract locally in the tri-state area from construction of the actual hotel to a custom Dave Barnhouse painting that hangs in the lobby.
“Anytime we can attract investment like this to any part of eastern Ohio, it benefits all of us. I was proud to be here (for the grand opening). This university has a great reputation across the state and the country. I wanted to make sure everybody involved received the recognition they deserve on behalf of the state of Ohio,” said Senator Lou Gentile who presented a proclamation from the Ohio State Senate.
Gentile was just one of many dignitaries from the city, county, and state who attended the grand opening celebration.
“Franciscan does it right. They do it first shelf. We just recently finished replacing the lighting up at the tennis courts at Belleview (Park). They are our partners. Together we got that finished,” said Steubenville City Manager James Mavromatis. “This is excellent for our city. If you start at the bottom and come up here, you can clearly see the touch of Franciscan University.”
The Best Western Inn will be open to the public soon and replace the Best Western hotel on the north side of University Boulevard, which was constructed in the early 1960s. That building will be repurposed for other uses by the University.
The next step at Franciscan square is the opening to two restaurants. They are still talking to interested restaurateurs for that project.