Planned GR hotel to accommodate extended stays

An artist's rendering of a planned new hotel for downtown Grand Rapids. (photo courtesy CWD Real Estate Investment - Feb. 2, 2014)
An artist's rendering of a planned new hotel for downtown Grand Rapids. (photo courtesy CWD Real Estate Investment - Feb. 2, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Downtown Grand Rapids is getting its first new hotel since 2007.

It is expected to be built at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Louis Street NW, providing some much-needed hotel space and possibly some much-needed residential space.

“A lot of stuff  going on right now. It’s a very exciting time to be here in Grand Rapids,” said developer Sam Cummings, who along with his partners has proposed the project.

Cummings, Scott Wierda and Dan DeVos — collectively known as CWD — have hired the same architect who designed the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which is located just around the corner from the proposed hotel.

Cummings referred to the proposed hotel as “a hipper, little edgier product.”

And it’s a project that comes at what Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small calls “the perfect storm for hotels.”

Small, who leads the regional convention and visitors group, said occupancy rates for Kent County hotels and motels is up from an average of just 49% in 2009 to 63.4% in 2013. The rate beat the national average for the first time last year.

If a city’s rate beats the national average for a few years, other developers often tend to want to come to your town. And more hotels mean more jobs.

The proposed hotel would also fill a niche downtown. Some of the 100 to 150 rooms would be set aside for extended-stay guests — people who stay for five days or more. It’s a growing market in Grand Rapids, fueled by projects like the Medical Mile.

“Presently that [extended stay] product does not exist downtown, and earlier indicators suggests there’s a reasonable demand for it,” Cummings said.

Current plans are for a five- to seven-floor hotel with retails space at ground level. But they may go higher and add some residential.

“There are very few condominiums downtown that are on the secondary market. Those that do become available are snapped up pretty quickly,” Cummings said.

It’s a big change from just a few years ago, when you could hardly give away a condo downtown.

Ashley Dietch, a real estate agent with Steve Volkers Group, says out of the 2,000 condos downtown, only 29 were available for sale Tuesday.

A condo selling for $250,000 just a few years ago goes for between $300,000 and $325,000 today.

Dietch said the average downtown condo is on the market for about two months, but it’s not uncommon for one to sell before it’s even listed.

Ground breaking for the CWD project is expected this fall,  with completion set for late 2015 or early 2016.