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Dirt turned for 3-story hotel in Crownpoint

CROWNPOINT

John Daugomah and his wife Jackie Curley said it was the Crownpoint community who told them a hotel was needed.

“Since we live here we wanted to know what was going to spark the economy for Crownpoint,” said Daugomah. “The overwhelming (majority of) the chapter, community, president, said it’s going to be a hotel. It’s been a long, trying test.” So for about six years the couple pursued this business venture and finally, on Sept 27, Daugomah and Curley celebrated the groundbreaking for a three-story, 72-room, dual-brand hotel with members of the Navajo Nation Council, President Jonathan Nez and others who helped them get to this point.

“As a lot of you know, it takes a lot of time and effort to get projects going on the Navajo Nation,” said John Largo of the local Regional Business Development Office. “There are so many things you got to do.” In 2013, Daugomah and Curley started the process of getting a hotel built by going to the Eastern RBDO.

A year later, they signed a franchise agreement with Choice Hotels to build a dual-brand Sleep Inn & Suites and Mainstay Suites hotel. In 2018, the architectural design and engineering was completed and bidding began and currently the Eastern RBDO is working to finalize costs with the general contractor so construction may begin in November or December. The cost estimate is approximately $12.5 million.

Native American Bank will be providing a business loan of $7 million through an investment by CSB Enterprises. The Navajo Nation investment into the project is $5.525 million — $3.775 million from the Permanent Trust Fund and $1.75 million from the Navajo Sales Tax fund. About $150,000 was borrowed from Navajo CDFI to complete the architectural design and engineering services for the project.

“We want to push Navajo-owned and the way we do that is investing,” said Largo. “We have a huge partnership here.” Largo also acknowledged JT Willie, director of the Division of Economic Development.

Willie said when he came on board as director he saw that the Crownpoint hotel project was on hold. In order to get it back on track DED allocated funding from the sales tax fund. “It was halted because of lack of funding and the need for support to get this project off the ground again,” said Willie.

After taking over as director, the first RBDO he met with was Eastern Agency and he noticed there were many different projects “sitting on the docket.” “It’s re-designation of funds,” said Willie, “to get these shovel projects off the ground. This hotel was shovel-ready, it just kept getting put on the back burner.”

Delegate Edmund Yazzie’s late father, Edgar Yazzie, had given 10 acres of his land to go toward the hotel. The delegate said his dad’s intention to give up land was solely selfless and to help his community. “It was for the people,” said Yazzie. “He couldn’t wait for it to open. I’m glad we’re getting this done.” Tourism is an untapped market on Navajo and Nez said this hotel will help start changing that, as well as keeping his administration’s promise that Eastern Agency will not be forgotten.

When Nez was vice president in 2015, he wrote a commitment letter from the president’s office promising $1 million in matching funds for the Crownpoint Hotel project. “There’s a lot of visitors in Western Agency, a lot of tourists,” said Nez. “So this is an opportunity to bring some of those visitors into Eastern Navajo.”

About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti

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