May 21–Lake County leaders and Fairport Harbor officials recently heard two proposals from developers who have an interest to potentially bring a resort hotel with a large indoor waterpark to Fairport Harbor.
The Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority and Fairport Harbor Waterfront Advisory Committee conducted a joint meeting May 20 at the Fairport Harbor Senior Center to listen to 20-minute presentation of qualifications from Medina-based Riley Hotel Group and Newton-Mass.-based ARCADD.
Their presentations came after Cleveland-based Hotel and Leisure Advisors conducted a feasibility study of a resort in Fairport Harbor and four other potential Lake County hotels.
The $50,000 study paid for from county bed tax dollars from the Lake County Visitors Bureau was also used to help gauge the public’s desire for such projects and provide developers with data.
David Sangree of Hospitality and Leisure Advisors said it is feasible to develop an indoor water park, hotel, conference center in Fairport, but municipal assistance will be needed.
A large waterpark appears to be the best way to proceed forward, Sangree said.
“The bigger, the better for a better possibility for it to work,” he said.
The Fairport Harbor Port Authority passed legislation on March 16 to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Authority to facilitate financing for the proposed hotel, if the project were eventually to move forward.
The proposed property includes about 3 acres owned by the Fairport Harbor Port Authority, plus additional land owned by the village.
Fairport Harbor Village Council must still approve any hotel construction before the idea becomes reality.
Key things to consider are that the lighthouse would remain untouched, and the water plant would be undisturbed, officials have said.
Authority Executive Director Mark Rantala said the two presentations would be scored and potential negotiations with a firm could begin after a recommendation after a review by Authority and village committees.
Hisham Ashkouri, an agency architect with ARCADD said the lighthouse in Fairport would be part of the project design by his company.
Ashkouri also said ACRADD proposes a hotel, common area with retail and a waterpark and estimated the project would involve around $70 million.
He also said a parking deck could be constructed to allow 700 cars at the area site.
Greg Baka and Frank Mancine of Riley Hotel Group said the company has several different facilities in Ohio including the Kent State Hotel, which is a 94-room facility and 300 seat conference center as part of a partnership with Kent State University and its foundation.
Baka said Riley Hotel Group can acquire, develop and manage hotels and conference centers.
Baka said the company uses outside firms to handle the architectural plans, which would be based on the direction provided by the project facilitators, so he didn’t provide much information about a potential waterpark.
However, he said the company has a relationship with another company that develops waterparks and appeared confident his company would be up to the task if that is the desire moved forward.
Fairport Harbor Mayor Tim Manross said the potential project is a big deal for the community and he appreciated the help from the Authority and urged the public to be involved in the process.
“I would encourage you to talk about this in the community,” Manross said to the residents in attendance at the meeting. “We don’t want anyone in town to think this body is directing it. We really want to have that feedback.”
Authority Board of Directors Chairman Christopher Madison said the county agency’s role in the project is as a facilitator.
“The community and your group, in terms of direction, we’re going to follow your lead in that area and we’re with you in making this something that the community is really proud of,” Madison said. “We’re really excited about it.