Downtown Alpena to get a New Holiday Inn Express

Conceptual Rendering of New Holiday Inn Express in downtown Alpena

ALPENA, MI – A Holiday Inn Express is coming to downtown Alpena.  It will be at the corner of River and N. 3rd Avenue.

This parcel of property has been vacant and up for sale for years after the Casio Ford Dealership moved and the old structure was torn down.  There had been previous plans to build condos on the lot but those plans fell through.

The developer has indicated that they intend to break ground in the spring of 2015 for the new hotel and preliminary plans for it to be open by late 2015 or early 2016.  There are still approval of variances and the process of tax abatement’s that need to be ironed out before shovels will go in the dirt.

Amerilodge Hospitality Group will spend roughly $5,500,000 on the project.  The new hotel will be a prototype, the first ever of its model in the United States, with a new more urban look and a large patio off the back overlooking the Thunder Bay River.

Amerilodge Group is a privately owned company based in Rochester Hills, MI.  They manage, operate, and owns hotels in the Midwest primarily in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.  The majority of their hotels are located in Michigan.

Plans call for a 4 story hotel with 90 rooms, an indoor pool, outdoor parking, meeting rooms and more. The hotel will have a brick facade, and be based on a new, more modern urban design.

The project will have a direct positive economic impact on the downtown area.  Director Jim Klarich of The Target Alpena Development Corporation said “Similar downtown hotel projects developed by Amerilodge have provided tremendous economic impacts to the businesses surrounding them and we expect ours to be no different.”  It is estimated the new hotel would bring an $1.5 million directly into the downtown area.

The project will no doubt be a boost for downtown Alpena but will also help the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and events such as the Michigan Brown Trout Festival where tourists come into the area and need lodging.

Many equate the brand names of Holiday Inn® and Holiday Inn Express® as one in the same.  However, there are several differences even though they are franchised by the same company.

A Holiday Inn® usually features a wider selection of amenities, such as full-service on-site restaurants, in-house bars, perhaps large entertainment centers and even room service. The room rate will usually reflect these extra services.

The Holiday Inn® of Alpena, now the Sanctuary Inn, had most, if not all, of the major amenities of a formal Holiday Inn®.

In a Holiday Inn Express®, the rooms might look roughly the same as they do in the regular Holiday Inn® chain but a Holiday Inn Express® lacks restaurants, in-house entertainment or room service.  The differences between the two brands largely come from the available amenities that the hotel brands offer to their guests.

At Monday evenings Alpena City Council meeting, City Planning and Development Director Adam Poll reviewed site plans and hotel parking with the City Council. Due to a flood plain location, the proposed hotel had to move, which cost the project some required parking. Developers then proposed and the Alpena City Council agreed to allow the hotel up to 20 spaces in a nearby city lot for overflow parking.

Poll also discussed issues with traffic patterns. He explained that for easier access to guests, a current one way street on 3rd Avenue, from River to Chisholm, may need to change to a two way.

Architect Toufik Bentahar for Amerilodge Starbest Construction presented the site plan to officials from the City of Alpena on August 12th, 2014.  After reviewing the project plans, the Alpena City Planning Commission approved it.

The next step is to seek a zoning variance to exceed a 35 foot restriction which will occur at a meeting of the Zoning board Of Appeals on August 27th, 2014. It is expected that the variance will be granted without fail.

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