MACON, Ga. -- It’s been a fixture of the Macon skyline for decades. A towering hotel, vacant for years, is about to once again be a place for people to stay.

On January 10, 2019, Ruby Sangha stood outside his hotel looking up 16 stories high. His aspirations were just as tall as the building he bought for $3.1 million in 2014.

“I didn’t want this facility to be a motel. I wanted to bring it to a higher standard,” Sangha, a real estate developer from Canada, told WGXA.

Sangha announced in the summer of 2018 the former Ramada Inn at First and Walnut streets in downtown Macon would become a Wyndham-branded hotel.

“I’ve put $10 million of my own money into this facility,” he said.

Sangha said the hotel has 298 rooms, 39 suites and four presidential suites. He declined a request from WGXA News for an inside tour, but did provide pictures he said were taken on the ninth floor of rooms currently under construction. He said renovations have been difficult, at times, and costly.

“There were boilers, leaking pipes, plumbing, electric had to be retrofitted to new cords, fire alarms, sprinkler systems,” he said.

According to Sangha, the property will be renovated in two phases, and if construction stays on track, guests will be able to stay as soon as mid-year 2019.

“End of May, early June phase one should be open. We are going to open up as phase one, 181 rooms, with a hotel restaurant and a bar,” he added.

Phase two includes renovations on the higher floors. Sangha said Wyndham’s franchise agreement calls for him to open phase two within six months after opening phase one.

Gary Wheat, president and CEO of Visit Macon, said additional inventory of hotel rooms on the market is a key component in bringing new events and conventions to the city.

“Adding some strategic rooms into the market, and some strategic space into that market, enhances us as a destination for meetings and events,” Wheat said.

Wheat said there are more than 3,700 people working in the hospitality and tourism industry in Macon and Bibb County. He said Visit Macon is constantly trying to recruit organizations and each on brings a different set of requirements.

“They look at things like available space, unique space, walkability, connectivity. Also with our convention center, they look for overflow,” said Wheat.

It’s that type of potential business Sangha has envisioned all along -- and wants a piece of.

“The market is there. I just have to capture my fair share,” said Sangha.

Sangha said once the hotel is fully operational, he hopes to employ about 180 full and part-time workers -- 120 just for phase one. He said he’s hired Marshall Hotel & Resorts to manage the property. Sangha is also planning to remodel the convention and meeting space and the ballroom. He said he’s still working on a franchise to bring a steakhouse to the property.