Its What Muskegon Needed

    MUSKEGON — The developers and owners of the Shoreline Inn & Suites in Muskegon say they wanted to help push the revitalization of downtown and boost the local tourist economy with the $11 million project along Muskegon Lake.

    John and Susan Payne are targeting May 1 for the opening for the lakefront hotel that’s designed to cater largely to leisure travelers, but will offer all the services corporate travelers seek.

    “They’ll have all the amenities of home,” Susan Payne said of the 11-floor, 140-room hotel being built on acreage adjacent to the Terrace Point Marina and Rafferty’s restaurant, which they bought in 1996 from SPX Corp.

    In formulating plans for the acreage they acquired with the marina and restaurant, the Paynes focused on addressing what they saw as a demand for more hotel rooms in Muskegon.

    They believe that Muskegon is losing out on its share of the growing tourism trade in West Michigan. The hotel project — coupled with future development plans the couple has for the surrounding acreage — is designed to build on efforts to revitalize downtown Muskegon and provide a new facility that can help attract visitors and boost the local tourism industry.

    “It’s what Muskegon needed,” Susan Payne said. “What we saw was the possibility that Muskegon was going to be left behind if nobody helped it get on the upswing.”

    Construction on the Shoreline Inn & Suites began more than two years ago, then stopped last year after the Paynes lost their lines of credit when lending institutions pulled back from the tourism and hospitality industries. Construction resumed early this fall when they secured new lines of credit, Susan Payne said.

    The Paynes are Muskegon natives who have run several businesses in Kalamazoo for years. They sought out new business ventures after returning to the area in 1996.

    The couple acquired Rafferty’s and the marina largely to gain ownership of the 14 acres along Muskegon Lake that they saw as ripe for development. They envision developing apartments and condominiums on a 10-acre tract on the point extending into the lake, and a retail development consisting of unique specialty stores on four acres on the other side of the property, which would also serve as an attraction for tourists.

    “We saw the potential of Muskegon,” Susan Payne said. “I’ve referred to this area (along Muskegon Lake) as a resort area, not just a hotel.”   

    The hotel, marina, restaurant and the nearby SPX building all occupy a fraction of what 20 years ago was the sprawling Lakey Foundry which routinely spewed cupola gas and soot into Muskegon’s downtown business district.

    Today, the undeveloped remainder of that land looks like a large, contoured shoreline park.

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