ALPENA - It appears Alpena is going to get a second new hotel in 2015.
Tuesday the city announced the intent of HHC Hospitality to construct a four-story, 78-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriott on US-23 North next to Dean Arbour Ford.
City Planning and Development Director Adam Poll announced some of the project detail, and although a zoning variance for the height of the building is needed, he said the project could begin in the near future.
"They have indicated to me that they want to get this going as quickly as possible and that they would like to break ground this fall," Poll said. "It came together pretty quickly really. We knew there has been interest in the property for about a year and a half, but now things have really began to speed up."
HHC Hospitality CEO Terry Riddle said a lot of research was done and it pointed to a need for hotel expansion on Alpena. He said he believes adding a recognizable brand name to the stable of existing of hotels will be good for business.
"We reviewed the market data and we liked what we saw and we felt Alpena would be a great market for us," Riddle said. "I had my first visit to Alpena about three months ago and loved it. If we can clear this one hurdle regarding the hotel's height we should be able to break ground this fall and open in the spring or early summer. We are looking forward to coming to Alpena and getting to work."
Riddle said the new hotel is somewhat of a prototype, as it will only be the second of its kind constructed, with the the first being in Indiana.
The new hotel will feature an indoor swimming pool, a breakfast buffet, along with regular rooms and suites. The news comes on the heels of an announcement by Amerilodge that it intends to build a four-story, 80-room hotel on the Thunder Bay River in Alpena. Alpena Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Jim Klarich said it is rare that two large deals in one town happen so close together. He said it is a testament to the hard work done to attract developers and once open the hotels will be a large boost to the area.
"How crazy is this," Klarich said. "This is huge and it means more business and tourist opportunities for the area. I think both of the new hotels will complement Alpena and each other well."
Poll said once the hotel on US-23 is built there could more businesses that could spring up due to it. He said the city's property further out US-23 North would be a good place for future developers to build.
"Any time a development of this size goes in it makes everyone else look at the area more closely," Poll said. "The highway already has a lot of traffic out that way and is already one of our busiest sections, but this should increase it even more. That will only make it that much more appealing."
The Alpena Zoning Review Board will consider the height variance at its next meeting on Aug. 23. Riddle said the environmental studies and other logistics already have been completed. He said if the zoning board allows the variance and the site plans are approved by the city, groundbreaking will commence.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.