As promised, from our article back in December highlighting our Most Anticipated Projects of 2017, we bring you an update on one of them, the new Embassy Suites Hotel being built in Monroe North next to the Brassworks Building.
You might be thinking “Another hotel downtown, whoopity doo.” But this hotel project has a very interesting history behind it, and a very unique location in Monroe North (the former industrial area North of I-196 along the river if you’re a newb to the area).
Rewind back to 2004, when Monroe Avenue North of I-196 was just beginning to take on new life as a haven for urban loft conversions. Near the corner of Monroe Avenue and Newberry Street, right near the 6th Street Bridge, Western American Mailers occupied a brick warehouse-type building just North of the Brassworks Building. According to an article in the Grand Rapids Press in 2009, it had a previous life as a Gezon Motors auto dealership.
Michigan-based hotel developer Suburban Inns purchased the property from Western American Mailers, demolished the WAM building, and started working on grandiose plans to build a hotel on the property in 2007. The design had gone through several iterations over those years, and complications arose in the design process according to sources, when subsurface level conditions made it difficult to build any underground parking.
Then the recession hit.
Several years later the plans were brought back to life, as Suburban Inns had already forged ahead with new hotels in Holland and along the East Beltline near Woodland Mall. They were able to strike a deal with Grand Rapids Rapids Spring & Stamping (now Gill Industries) to purchase adjacent land and vacate an alley along Bond Street, to give them more room for a parking ramp.
In 2016, rumors swirled that they may do a combination Hilton Embassy Suites – Hilton Garden Inn, a trend that is becoming more popular around the world. But Suburban Inns is now planning to do a standalone Embassy Suites on the site.
Fast forward to February 2017: construction equipment appeared last week on the site after many years of anticipation.
According to Chris Beckering, Executive Vice President at Pioneer Construction, they are mobilizing resources and equipment on site in anticipation of a groundbreaking in the next few weeks. “Suburban Inns has been working closely with neighboring property owners and City staff to finalize a few remaining details. We are excited to begin the construction phase of this highly anticipated project,” says Beckering.
An aerial of the current site on Monroe Avenue.
The eight story hotel is planned to have a bar and restaurant, and its own on-site parking facility. It will also sit across the street from Sixth Street Park on the Grand River, where the city has plans to upgrade the waterfront park as part of its new flood protection program.
While some have questioned the need for more hotels downtown, a report out by downtown business leaders and convention officials are saying that more hotel rooms are needed in all of West Michigan, as occupancy rates reach record highs. In addition to conventions and sporting events, downtown Grand Rapids has become one of the hottest wedding destinations in West Michigan, with people coming from as far away as Chicago to take advantage of the lower cost venues and room rates.
If you haven’t already, Like us on Facebook to get more updates of our Most Anticipated Projects this coming year.
Jeff Hill is a contributor to GRNow and a development and economics junkie who likes to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s next for Grand Rapids. You can email him feedback or insider story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.