Dec. 30–City of Erie building and fire inspectors Thursday morning gave their final certificate of occupancy approval to Erie developer Tom Kennedy.
At 3 p.m., Kennedy opened the doors to his new three-story, 56-room Bayfront Cobblestone Hotel & Suites at 701 West Bayfront Parkway.
By early Thursday evening, several guests had already checked in.
"We've owned this site for at least seven years, and I got involved with Cobblestone a couple years ago and we put the plan together to build five Cobblestones in five years," said Kennedy, owner of the Erie-based Select Real Estate Opportunities LTD investment group. "I started thinking the bayfront site would be an awesome location, so we decided to see if we could make one work on this site."
Construction on the $5 million project — what Kennedy describes as an upper-midscale hotel brand — began in December 2015 and concluded a few weeks ago. There is on-site parking for 65 vehicles on the east side of the hotel.
"It's taken two years to bring to fruition in developing this site, but I think this is an awesome location the way it's positioned on the bay, we have beautiful views, and it's the first thing you see when you come into town off I-79 and the Bayfront Parkway," Kennedy said. "I think it's going to be a nice hub of activity and I think it's going to complement the Sheraton and the Marriott (hotel complexes on the bayfront) real well. We're a little bit different."
Bayfront Cobblestone room rates range from $89 to $129, Kennedy said. Three rooms are extended-stay suites.
Amenities include an indoor pool and whirlpool, meeting room, fitness facility, business center, a microwave and refrigerator in each room, flat-screen televisions, free high-speed internet, a free breakfast buffet, convenience store, a beer and wine bar, and pet friendly rooms (for an additional fee).
Select Real Estate Opportunities opened Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in Corry in October 2014, in Pecos, Texas, in February and in Harborcreek Township in June. The investment group plans to open additional Cobblestone hotels in Orrville, Ohio, in March and in Greenville in May.
The Erie hotel was built in front of a bluff that runs along the West Bayfront Parkway.
"In think the way the hillside is created an illusion that there really wasn't room to build a hotel," Kennedy said. "When we said we were going to do it, people just couldn't see it fitting. The same thing with parking. The whole east side of the building is parking. I think people just couldn't visualize it. We had an architect show it on paper, and we walked it so much, we knew it could fit when we stood on the site. It was big enough, but anyone driving by couldn't see that."
Ron Leonardi can be reached at 870-1680 or by email. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/ETNleonardi.