Welcome to the Hotel Grosse Pointe City?

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 5, 2016

GROSSE POINTE CITY — A long-standing dream of many Grosse Pointers and a goal for Grosse Pointe City officials could finally come true.

A small boutique hotel could be coming to the Village. Although details weren’t available at press time, City Manager Pete Dame told the Grosse Pointe City Council at a Sept. 19 meeting that he had been approached recently by two different local developers about constructing a hotel in the Village.

Roughly eight or nine years ago, Dame said, there had been a proposed senior living development for property on St. Clair Street near the Village, as well as a hotel on Notre Dame Street in the Village. 

“And then the economy fell apart,” said Dame, referencing the housing market crash of 2008, which caused a number of proposed developments to get shelved, including both of the aforementioned. And while the Sunrise property is still owned by the senior living company and remains in limbo, City officials are hoping to resurrect the hotel concept on City-owned property in the Village.

 “While the economy is still good and there is interest from local developers,” Dame is asking City leaders to allow the city to put out a request for proposals, or RFP, to see what developers might have in mind as far as a hotel.

A small, chic hotel has long been a dream for Grosse Pointers, who have said they’d like to have somewhere close by to house guests for weddings and other events. The City Council has to take the lead on an economic development project like this because, as Dame pointed out, City officials are the only ones who’d have a say over City-owned property, which is the case with Village parking areas under consideration for a hotel.

Mayor Dale Scrace said the only costs to the City for the RFP would be use of Dame’s time “and perhaps a drawing.”

“It doesn’t seem to me to be a significant outlay of capital to at least explore the opportunity,” Scrace said.

Dame said he doesn’t mind tackling this project.

“I’d be excited to do this,” he said of preparing the RFP.

Dame recommended Lot 3 for the hotel, noting that a taller building at the edge of the street wouldn’t cause shadow problems for residents on Neff Road, and a parking structure could be put up on Lot 2 because it would be more central for all of the businesses in the area, not just the hotel.

“There’s going to be a lot of shared use for parking,” he said.

Dame recommended a publicly owned and maintained parking structure so that it could be used by a wide array of Village visitors.

An RFP would give City officials a better idea of what kinds of visions developers might have, and would enable City officials to select from among a variety of options to choose one that would be the best fit for the business district.

Dame said the project could include other amenities, such as residential housing — condominiums have been considered before for the Village — and retail on Lot 3 in conjunction with a hotel development.

City officials greeted the news enthusiastically.

“If you’ve got serious people, it’s an opportunity we can’t pass up,” City Councilman Donald Parthum Jr. said. “People have been clamoring for a hotel (for a long time).”

Others echoed that sentiment.

“This is a golden opportunity,” City Councilman John Stempfle said. “Timing is everything. Let’s go for it.”

City Councilman Christopher Walsh said he “wholeheartedly” supports this idea.

“That was the whole genesis for the DDA,” he said, referring to attracting projects and improving the Village. “Density, development in the district has long been our goal. Now that you have the Village humming (with new businesses) and have had pretty substantial (new) development … it makes all the sense in the world” to seek hotel proposals again.

The City’s Downtown Development Authority for the Village is expected to offer its input on the RFP before the RFP comes back to the council for review, Dame said. At press time, he said he hoped to have an RFP ready for the council to consider at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 17. If all goes well, Dame said, they’d like to put out the RFP following that meeting. He said developers likely would have a couple of months to respond with their plans, and then city officials would evaluate the proposals and seek public comment on them.