The St. Louis Embassy Suites hotel. Embassy Suites Hotels, with more than 200 locations, is the nation's largest chain of upscale, all-suite hotels. Photo via fb.com
Suburban Inns is expecting to spend the next several months building a riverfront Embassy Suites hotel in downtown’s Monroe North Business District — and plans to have the 11-story structure open as early as 2014.
The proposed site is on a vacant parcel at the intersection of Monroe Avenue and Newberry and Sixth streets, overlooking the Grand River. The hotel had been in the discussion stages for several years, but financing reportedly fell through during the recession.
Brian Beukema, president of property development for Suburban Inns, told Monroe North business leaders today that he is “98 percent” certain the project will go through.
Suzanne Schulz, planning director for the city of Grand Rapids, said the city is “viewing the project as a go.”
Although Beukema said “there are many moving parts at this time,” he said that the project to bring an Embassy Suites — considered the high end of the Hilton chain — to Grand Rapids is moving forward.
“We are in the development stages of an Embassy Suites for North Monroe,” Beukema said. “We have intentions of breaking ground this summer with a 16 month construction period (and) opening late fall 2014.
"We are in the architectural phase, working with the city to make sure we not only meet the zoning requirements, but also deliver the type of project our guests expect," he said. "We have a franchise license for an Embassy Suites.”
At the meeting, Beukema suggested the possibility of an 11-story hotel, with a seven story parking structure over some retail shops, as well as a banquet area and restaurant.
Because every guest room is a suite, he said Suburban Inns plans to attract tenants for long-term stays.
Schulz, whose role in the process has been dealing with site issues and layouts, said Suburban Inns has been responsive, committed to the project and fabulous to work with.
When asked about city approvals, such as planning commission approval and environmental review, Schulz said Suburban Inns had already gone through all those and is currently undergoing staff approval, final building permits and application for a liquor license.
“There had been some false starts," Schulz said. "They’d purchased the property a while ago with the intention of putting a hotel there. They had put the project on hold given the recession, but now they are back and excited to begin the project.”