A first-class downtown hotel in Akron long has been a priority for government, civic and business leaders, who point to putting up guests at the Sheraton in Cuyahoga Falls or the Hilton in Fairlawn. Progress has been slow.

The city estimates it would take $6 million to renovate the aging Akron City Centre Hotel, a former Radisson, or $12 million to build a new hotel. Joel Testa hoped to break ground two years ago on a Courtyard by Marriott near his Northside Lofts development, but the project stalled.

This week, Stu Lichter, the owner of the 400-acre Goodyear redevelopment site, announced plans that he will build a 135-room, full-service hotel on what is now a Goodyear parking lot about two miles east of downtown. Lichter said he would announce details in 30 days to 60 days, with ground likely to be broken by summer.

Why no announcement yet about a downtown hotel coming soon?

Parcels are available, and the city can offer incentives such as infrastructure improvements, but officials explain that it cannot help developers amass enough equity capital to get the attention of banks. Lichter, who specializes in turning around huge industrial properties across the nation, is better positioned to gain access to capital.

City officials insist there is enough demand to support a downtown hotel, provided it is a leading brand offering such things as bonus points to business travelers. That leaves financing as the remaining obstacle.