City May Amend Hotel Plan

GRAND RAPIDS — City commissioners will soon get a chance to amend an amendment they amended about a month ago, an action that the city’s Brownfield Authority has already taken.

The revision would add a parcel on Campau Avenue, just south of Louis Street, to the site plan of the downtown hotel that Alticor Inc. plans to build, and add the property to the brownfield plan that has already been approved for the project.

Alticor, the former Amway Corp., plans to build a parking structure on the new parcel for its hotel going up at Campau and Pearl Street. The garage will sit just south of the hotel and will offer at least 500 spaces and possibly as many as 750.

“We’re not asking for any more credit or anything else,” said Bert Crandell, hotel project leader for HP3 LLC, the Alticor division guiding the project.

Commissioners first awarded the brownfield designation to HP3 LLC last June. The next month, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. added its approval. Those actions will let Alticor take a Single Business Tax credit for up to 10 percent of the project’s total tab.

Crandell said last week the hotel would cost from $60 million to $70 million to build.

For the city to be able to grant Alticor a brownfield designation, it had to make what the state calls a “reasonable contribution to the project.” That criterion apparently will be met by the city’s Downtown Development Authority, which pledged to support the project with up to $5 million worth of street and sidewalk improvements along Campau Avenue.

Board members agreed at their December meeting to spend $2 million on the work and to reimburse Alticor for up to $3 million worth of public enhancements the company plans to make as part of its hotel project. The DDA will have until the end of 2030 to pay Alticor for those improvements at an interest rate of 4.5 percent per annum. Board members are expected to formalize their agreement with Alticor next month.

To qualify for the DDA assistance, Alticor has to open the hotel by Dec. 31, 2007. The hotel is expected to create about 250 jobs once the ribbon to the 340-room hotel is cut. The new hotel is also expected to pay about $650,000 in lodging excise taxes to the county every year and $100,000 in taxes to the DDA annually.

Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects of Chicago and local firm BETA Design Group are designing the hotel and turned over the schematic drawing to Alticor officials last week. The design doesn’t include the 105-year-old Israels building and Alticor will have to go before the city’s Historic Preservation Committee and explain why the structure needs to be razed.

The final decision on whether the building on the corner of Pearl and Campau should come down, though, will rest with city commissioners and not the preservation commission because the structure isn’t located in a historic district.

Alticor plans to unveil the hotel’s design in February, with Amway co-founder Richard DeVos doing the honors. The yet-unnamed hotel will be part of the Marriott national chain, but will be owned and operated by the Amway Hotel Corp., which also runs the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel on Monroe Avenue and the downtown Courtyard by Marriott near Fulton and Monroe.    

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