The Holiday Inn is at the intersection of West Western Avenue and Third Street. Photo via fb.com
(As seen on WZZM TV 13) West Michigan developer Jon Rooks of Parkland Properties is planning to invest $1.5 million in an upgrade of the Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor, which he acquired in late June.
Rooks, who also owns the Shoreline Inn a short distance away on Muskegon Lake, did not reveal the price he paid for the Holiday Inn, but said, “we’re keeping the franchise” and that “it’s going to stay a Holiday Inn.” He bought the property from an unidentified group of investors who are not from the Muskegon area.
The Holiday Inn is an eight-story structure with 201 hotel rooms, a full-service restaurant and bar that seat 200, and additional banquet/meeting space of about 10,000 square feet. It has been one of the most prominent commercial entities in downtown Muskegon for decades.
Rooks said Parkland Properties sold its 62-unit Highbrook Town Homes property in Hudsonville June 18, one day prior to closing the deal on the Holiday Inn Muskegon Harbor. Rooks said he bought Highbrook from HUD in 2003, stabilized it and had it at full occupancy when sold.
Rooks said his $1.5 million in capital improvements at the Holiday Inn is contained in a plan that was “coordinated with the franchise committee at Intercontinental Hotel Group,” a Georgia company that owns the Holiday Inn brands along with others including InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Candlewood Suites and others.
The improvements will take place over the next 24 months and will include upgrading of the building infrastructure, the food and beverage areas, and the rooftop pool deck area.
“We showed (IHG) the Shoreline Inn and what we did there,” he said, which he believes helped seal the deal. Rooks added that IHG prefers “locally involved owners in their hotels,” noting that he owns a home 10 minutes away from downtown Muskegon on Lake Michigan.
The Shoreline Inn, a 140-room, 10 story luxury hotel, was acquired by Rooks in 2009. Built in 2002, it includes a 112-slip marina on Muskegon Lake and an adjacent full-service restaurant, The Lake House Waterfront Grille.
The occupancy rate at the Holiday Inn in 2012 was 38 percent, according to Rooks.
“We plan to raise the occupancy rate,” he said. “We’ve done that at the Shoreline Inn. We started at 19 percent occupancy and we’re over 50 percent at the Shoreline now.”
Rooks noted the Holiday Inn is “in the very heart of the urban core which is being revitalized in downtown Muskegon.”
Two other major new commercial buildings have gone up at the same intersection since 2008.
“We know this hotel has a big impact on Muskegon, one way or another. This is the biggest hotel and the biggest meeting space,” he said.
“We really feel like the hotel is at a tipping point,” he added. “We want to restore it to its former grandeur and avoid it someday becoming a lower-end hotel. Holiday Inn is a premier brand.”
The former owners recently had completed upgrades of the interior décor, he noted. His improvements, he said, are aimed at resulting in “key attraction components,” such as an executive lounge, a game room for kids and an enhanced pool area with plants on the outdoor deck area.
Doug Pollock, who has been general manager at the Shoreline Inn, is now taking over as GM at the Holiday Inn, while his former assistant GM, Diana Eldred, is taking over as general manager at Shoreline, according to Rooks.
“We’re hoping the two hotels will host about 150,000 guests per year,” said Rooks.
One of the biggest annual events in Muskegon is Bike Time. For a few days every July, it brings tens of thousands of leisure visitors to the downtown, including tourists and motorcycle enthusiasts. Rooks said both hotels will be completely booked during Bike Time.
Rooks gave several reasons he decided to buy the Holiday Inn. First is the location, which is literally the epicenter of downtown Muskegon. The hotel is across the street from the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, which includes the historic Frauenthal Theater. The Hines Building, a three-story office building that is home to Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, is opposite the Holiday Inn, and diagonally across the intersection is the Sidock office building. Both were built since 2008.
“Muskegon has property values that we believe are going to go up and up,” said Rooks.
Another reason for buying the hotel was his ownership of the Shoreline. With the impact of 341 combined hotel rooms and 12,000 square feet of meeting space, he now can combine the marketing and strategizing efforts for both “to attract larger groups to Muskegon at really attractive rates.”
Rooks also owns a vacant, 91-year-old, eight-story building in downtown Muskegon that was once the Hackley Bank building and now is called Highpoint Flats. He plans to renovate it into apartments starting this year. Rooks acquired the building several years ago with the intent to convert it to condos, but he said he had to “reinvent the project after the recession.”
Rooks started his Parkland Properties development business in Grand Rapids in 1988 and has converted former industrial and school buildings into condo developments, including Boardwalk Condominiums, Union Square Condominiums, Cityview Condominiums, and others.
Parkland Properties also owns Terrace Point, a former industrial property adjacent to the Shoreline Inn on Muskegon Lake, which Rooks is developing for 70 home sites, many of them on the water.