A husband-and-wife team is prepared to invest nearly $2 million to bring .
Ken and Rebecca Wickenheiser, who own Hotel Sterling in Monroe, have proposed turning the city-owned Sears Building at the corner of Biddle and Maple into Hotel Sterling Wyandotte.
from developers wanting to purchase the building. In addition to the hotel plan, another developer submitted the idea to turn the building into apartments and lofts, with a commercial space on the first floor.
City officials are set to announce that they prefer the hotel idea and plan to move forward with it.
The project would take 59 weeks to complete and would be done in two phases, according to the plan submitted to the city.
The first phase would cover all exterior improvements to the building, along with the construction of 21 hotel suites and a conference/banquet facility. The 21 suites would be located on the building’s first, second and mezzanine floors.
The second phase would be converting the third floor into an additional 12 hotel rooms. This work would be completed once demand dictates more rooms are needed. Until then, the third floor would remain unchanged and be closed to the public.
In a letter to city officials, the Wickenheisers said they’re eager to get started.
“Our hotel will further enhance Wyandotte’s existing appeal as a tourist and business destination in addition to providing substantial investment and increased employment in the city,” their letter reads.
“As with all projects we undertake, every effort will be made to preserve the historical nature of the structure as this has been a critical component to providing our guests a unique experience.”
The amenities in the Wyandotte hotel suites would be similar to those offered in Monroe, which include hardwood floors throughout, luscious bathrooms, a wet bar, appliances and complimentary refreshments.
The average daily room rate would be $85, with an estimated 2,500 guests staying at the hotel each year, according to the plan.
The total investment of $1.9 million for the project includes $1.2 million for construction costs, $380,000 on furnishings and equipment for the hotel and $350,000 to purchase the building from the city.
The project is contingent on the Wickenheisers being able to secure $900,000 in loans from the U.S Small Business Administration.
The hotel is expected to create 20 construction jobs and five permanent jobs.
The hotel would only be staffed during regular working hours. Guests arriving after hours would enter a code into the hotel’s outdoor security system to gain entrance into the building. Check-in and check-out would be automated in the hotel lobby. Workers could be reached around-the-clock if needs arise, but would not physically be on the premises after hours.
In addition to their hotel in Monroe, the couple also has converted obsolete buildings into commercial properties, lofts and extended stay units for their hotel.
They’ve financed, constructed and managed a total of 13 mixed-use commercial projects totaling about $4 million.
In Wyandotte, Rebecca would be responsible for designing the project and operating the hotel, while Ken would oversee all construction-related aspects.
City council members are expected to take the first step toward approving the project on Monday night when they vote on changing a city ordinance that requires hotels and motels to provide parking for its guests. The current ordinance stipulates that hotels and motels with 15 or more rooms must supply parking. Officials are set to lessen that requirement and only force establishments with 34 or more rooms to provide parking.
That way, the proposed hotel would not have to provide parking, but would instead use available on-street parking and nearby public lots, as is done at the Monroe location.
"We certainly want to attract a use like a boutique," City Administrator Todd Drysdale said. "So we want to relax our ordinance to make it attractive to the developer. ... If you don't, you’re either going to get a smaller project or not a project at all."
Drysdale said he doesn't foresee a downtown parking problem if a hotel is built. But you might have to walk a ways to get to your destination.
"Believe it or not, there is not a parking shortage in Wyandotte," he said. "There is a convenient parking shortage. … No matter how many consultants we bring in, no one determines we have a parking shortage here."
If council members approve the change Monday night, the matter will be referred to the city's Planning Commission, which must hold a public hearing on the issue before any changes can be made.