East Bay Township planning commissioners will get a first look Tuesday at a developer’s plans to build a 140-room extended-stay Hyatt House hotel with an on-site restaurant, cafe and indoor and outdoor pools on the property. ‘US-31 between the Hampton Inn and Traverse City State Park. Planning commissioners could also vote on Tuesday on whether to approve a new 32-unit Wuerfel Resorts hotel called the Alexandra Inn between Pointes North station and Gens Park. The two developments are the latest in a series of hotel projects planned for the corridor, including two six-story hotels recently approved to be built on the former Pebble Brook Adventure Park and a 92-unit Avid Hotel planned for the formerly owned by Wendy’s.
Planning commissioners will hold a sketch plan review on Tuesday for plans for Hyatt House, or an informal discussion that will provide developers with feedback on their proposals before they return with a formal site plan request for approval. According to project documents, nominee Chris Abbo and his partners plan to build a 74-foot, five-story Hyatt House hotel at 1050 US-31 North (pictured, rendering). The Hyatt House brand is a “residential-inspired hotel experience offering spacious apartment-style rooms and suites with full kitchens,” according to the company’s website. Properties typically include amenities such as 24-hour exercise rooms, laundry facilities, and convenience markets; outdoor common areas; free breakfast with omelet bars; and H Bar, an on-site lounge. Extended stay rates and special amenities are available for guests staying three weeks or more.
The Traverse City location would have indoor and outdoor pools, a cafe (labeled as Starbucks in renderings submitted to the township), and a restaurant with outdoor seating open to the public, according to project documents. Renderings show 140 rooms in the hotel and 208 parking spaces. The planning commission had previously approved another candidate’s plans in 2018 to build an 80ft, 139-room hotel on the site. However, that developer later died and the property went on the market in October 2020 for $3.5 million, where it remained for over a year.
East Bay Township Planning and Zoning Director Claire Karner cites a handful of issues that could potentially arise during planning commission discussions on Tuesday. “I would say the biggest thing right now is connectivity,” she says. “Our ordinance requires new developments to connect to adjacent parcels whenever possible.” According to project documents, Abbo intends to provide an easement for a future connection to the Hampton Inn, but is still exploring connection options to the nearby state park. Sidewalks are already in place within the public right-of-way, but it is also proposed to go along the front and side of the building, connecting to existing sidewalks. Two existing driveways off US-31 will remain in place. The site is within 20 feet of Mitchell Creek; the township’s zoning ordinance requires a building setback of at least 50 feet from MNR designated trout streams. “It was not something I had seen mentioned in the previous application,” says Karner. “Just looking at the map, it looked like it was trout steam, but I haven’t contacted EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) to confirm.”
While planning commissioners won’t take action on plans for Hyatt House on Tuesday, they could potentially vote to approve a new 32-unit Wuerfel Resorts hotel called Alexandra Inn on a narrow strip of land between Pointes North and Gens Park. There is currently a house on the property, which would be demolished to make way for the hotel. Josh Wuerfel previously told planning commissioners that the four-story project would be a “boutique-style property” aimed largely at families, with the 32 units made up of linked sets of rooms that would allow guests to book two rooms together and to move between them without having to use the exterior corridors. The property would also have a rooftop terrace like the one at Hotel Indigo in downtown Traverse City available to guests.
According to a staff report, there are still outstanding items that need to be addressed with Alexandra Inn’s application, including stormwater review and approval, retaining wall and railing/guard details -body, as well as the number and width of parking spaces. Planning commissioners could vote to approve the project with conditions requiring Wuerfel Resorts to address these and any other outstanding items, or they could hold off and wait for a next meeting if council feels more information is needed before to give his approval. The staff report notes that the proposed hotel “uses every part of the land and is very cramped”, but that the use is “similar to neighboring properties”.
The Hyatt House and Alexandra Inn are just two of many new hotels planned for the US-31 corridor in East Bay Township. In March, planning commissioners approved plans by development group Stellar Hospitality to build a pair of hotels — a six-story, 123-room Residence Inn by Marriott and a six-story, 122-room Staybridge Suites by IHG — on the former Pebble Brook Adventure Park property. The site is also expected to accommodate an 8,692 square foot shopping center that could include a restaurant, drive-thru cafe and other uses. Construction is expected to begin this spring and will be staggered over the next two years, putting the development on track for a late spring/early summer 2024 completion date. Another project, an Avid hotel by 92 units planned for the former Wendy’s property on US-31, has also been approved by the township, though Karner says she hasn’t heard any updates on the progress of that development since the last fall.
So what impact might building five new hotels over a 1.5-mile stretch have on the US-31 corridor in East Bay Township? “That’s a good question,” Karner said. “From a planning perspective, we are definitely in favor of increasing the tax base and redevelopment of underutilized vacant properties. We also heard some concerns from the public and planning commissioners about the increased traffic and pressure on this corridor. It is certainly something to think about. »
Karner says the Township of East Bay recently applied (but was unsuccessful) for a grant for planning efforts in the US-31 corridor, and says the township will continue to pursue improvements announced in a recent plan update. director. This document recommends creating a Beach District area with signage and branding, crosswalks, decorative pedestrian lighting, and buried power lines along US-31. Managing access from a vehicular and pedestrian perspective will be crucial as more hotels and other developments come online, Karner said. “Consider more crossings, connections to the TART Trail, work with BATA and promote the Bayline,” she says. “A very high priority is to engage business and proactively plan to try to make (US-31) a more inviting place to be and to hang out.”
Photo credit: Bowers+Associates