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For Years, There's Been Talk of the Need for a Hotel in the Grosse Pointes, Michigan;
Now Two May be Built

By Christina Hall, Detroit Free PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jun. 15, 2008 - For years, there's been talk of the need for a hotel in the Grosse Pointes.

It's definitely the issue the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce is asked about most, sometimes by residents but usually by out-of-towners seeking the closest hotel for a wedding or other family-related function in the five communities, said Mary Huebner, chamber president.

Now, the Grosse Pointes could end up with two hotels.

A feasibility study is under way for a possible 50- to 100-room, upscale boutique hotel in the downtown area of Grosse Pointe known as the Village.

On Friday, a separate group of investors met with executives of St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit about a proposal to construct an upscale Hampton Inn & Suites on a part of the hospital campus in Grosse Pointe Woods.

"I think it shows continuous development in the Pointes," Huebner said of the hotel plans.

Both plans are in the early stages, but if given the green light, they could provide needed lodging for visitors and give an economic boost to businesses in the Pointes, community leaders said.

The proposed five-story hotel in Grosse Pointe would be on the Notre Dame side of a city-owned parking lot, near a proposed site for condos and retail space. City Manager Peter Dame said the hotel and condo/retail projects would bring about $28 million in private investments to the city, increasing the taxable value of the shopping district by two-thirds.

The hotel would be modeled after the City Flats Hotel in Holland, Mich., which has upscale, contemporary furnishings and interior design. The first floor would house meeting rooms, the fifth floor a rooftop restaurant with a view of Lake St. Clair, said Tom Welling, director of the Development Services Group of Lamar Construction Co. in Hudsonville, which is acting as the developer for the City Flats Hotel chain.

Welling said the building would be environmentally friendly, energy efficient and constructed with recyclable materials. Groundbreaking for the proposed $9-million to $12-million hotel could be in the spring. He said room rates could be similar to the $140-$160 per night cost at the hotel in Holland.

The 83-room Hampton Inn & Suites project proposed near the hospital, which is on Moross, would probably be more than four stories and cost about $9.6 million, said Jon Cotton, one of the project's investors and a member of the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The hotel would cater to hospital visitors, traveling doctors and outside vendors as well as those staying in the area for business or pleasure.

Cotton said the parties agreed on a location at the meeting Friday but declined to be specific. He said the two sides had scheduled another meeting in the coming weeks.

"It does look very promising," he said.

Cotton said he was interested in a boutique-type hotel in the Pointes but shifted his focus to near St. John after a feasibility study done about a year ago showed a hotel would work better near the hospital campus. Cotton already owns an extended-stay hotel, Staybridge Suites, on the campus of St. John's Providence Park Hospital in Novi.

"We really don't see" the Hampton Inn "as a competitor," Welling said of his boutique hotel proposal.

When the chamber gets asked about lodging options in the Grosse Pointes, Huebner said the callers are usually referred to hotels in downtown Detroit or the Eastpointe/Roseville area.

A Grosse Pointe hotel could help attractions such as the War Memorial and the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House with weddings and other events, or when clubs have someone coming in from out of town for scheduled speaking engagements.

"What we do sometimes is put them in people's homes, but that's imposing," said Mark Weber, War Memorial president. "The visitors would rather go to a hotel, have their own room."

Contact CHRISTINA HALL at 586-826-7265 or chall@freepress.com.

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