Traverse City News and Events

Elmwood Township Hotel Targeted For Spring 2020 Opening

By Beth Milligan | Aug. 26, 2019

A proposed Elmwood Township hotel and marina in the works since 2017 is moving forward under a revised design, with developers targeting a spring 2020 completion date for the first phase of the project.

Elmwood Township planning commissioners gave preliminary approval this past week to new site plans for the proposed West Shore Hotel & Marina on M-22 at the former Scuba North property. When first discussed in 2017, project plans called for the construction of a 115-room hotel on the 11-acre Greilickville site and a 28-slip marina across the road. All of the hotel rooms were intended to be identical two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites, with laundry and kitchen facilities provided on-site.

As developers worked through site preparations and local, state, and federal permit processes, the hotel plans began to evolve. According to new documents submitted to the township, the hotel will now feature 146 rooms, with the building centered on the property with wings extending north and south on the western expanse. A majority of rooms are expected to have exterior patios, with on-site parking provided and amenities including laundry service and continental breakfast offered.

According to developer and investor Pat Johnson, one of the project partners, rather than identical units throughout the hotel, the new design now features a range of room sizes, starting as small as a standard 13-by-26 hotel room. “And then one-bedroom, and then two-bedroom, and some elite suites which are four-bedroom, four-bathroom. So there’s much more variety,” he told planning commissioners.

West Shore Hotel will operate as a “condotel,” meaning the property will be run by one hotel management group, but units can be individually purchased by outside buyers. Johnson said he expected that approximately 40 percent of rooms would eventually be held by the hotel management group, while 60 percent would be held by outside owners. Owners can stay in their rooms up to two contiguous weeks at a time; the units are rented to hotel guests the rest of the time, with owners sharing in a portion of the rental revenue. A RE/MAX sign posted on the property indicates hotel condo units are available for presale starting at $399,000.

A new public trail connection is planned to link the hotel property to the TART trail running behind it, with landscaping helping to screen the property and shared driveways and connected rear lots reducing traffic impacts. Johnson’s development group is also working with the Michigan Department of Transportation on installing a pedestrian island in the middle of M-22 to provide safer crossings for hotel and marina users, and to create public sidewalks on either side of the road.

Plans for the marina have also changed. A redesign of the pier and dock systems now allows for 62 boat slips, ranging in size from 40 to 70 feet. A former house on the site will be converted into a shower and bathroom facility with a marina office. The property will also host a fishing pier open to the public. “We put a lot of work into refining the layout and design of the new marina,” said Dave Lewis of Gourdie-Fraser, who is serving as project manager. “We’ve probably done 20 different layouts with this new marina."

The marina is not anticipated to serve hotel guests – no boat launch is available on-site, and guests will be discouraged from parking boat trailers in the shared hotel/marina lot – but will instead serve long-term slip holders. Johnson said he initially thought out-of-town boat owners would purchase the slips, but said overwhelming local interest indicates most slips could end up going to area residents. Developers are obtaining permits to dredge the marina basin to a depth of 9-10 feet, with plans to use the dredging spoils as infill on the hotel construction site.

Planning commissioners approved the new hotel site plans contingent on meeting several conditions, including obtaining a planned driveway easement with the neighboring Masonic Lodge, legally combining the multiple parcels on the site into one property, and securing agency approvals from all other required entities, including the local fire department. Final approval of the redesigned marina plans, meanwhile, will require a public hearing and additional site plan review at the planning commission’s September 17 meeting.

Johnson said he’d like to break ground yet this fall on the development in order to open in spring 2020. While some planning commissioners called the timeline “ambitious,” Johnson said he completed his last hotel project “in four-and-a-half months” and also noted construction will be phased. While the marina and hotel will be built simultaneously, the marina will likely open first, followed by the first 60-80 units in the hotel. Completion of the rest of the hotel is expected within the next one to three years, according to Johnson, “with the remainder (of units built) as demand allows.”

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