Alticor To Start New Hotel In 05

March 26, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The design of the new downtown hotel proposed by Alticor Inc. should be ready within six months.

And even though the number of rooms the hotel will have and what types of amenities it will offer are uncertain at this time, one thing is absolutely sure: Alticor will build it.

“We’re committed to doing a hotel,” said Joe Tomaselli, president of the Amway Hotel Corp., the firm slated to manage the hotel.

“We’ve announced it and we’re going to do it,” he added.

Tomaselli said Alticor is using this year to plan the hotel, which will go up near the corner of Pearl Street and Campau Avenue, just south of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Alticor owns the surface parking lot on Campau and has purchased the nearby Isreals building at Pearl and Campau. Both sites will be used for the hotel project.

“Right now, we’re trying to put the pieces together,” Tomaselli said.

“We’re collecting a lot of input as to what the market will support: what size of a hotel, what type of a hotel, what size meeting space should we design, all those types of things.”

Construction is tentatively set to begin late next year. The hotel is scheduled to open in the fall of 2007.

“So this is our planning year, if you will.”

Tomaselli said Alticor feels another hotel is needed downtown, just not for a few more years. The demand for one isn’t there yet, but should be once DeVos Place establishes a reputation among meeting planners.

“To get the word out and get customers oriented to what you’re doing, get them in and show them and make believers out of them takes time,” said Tomaselli, a board member of the Convention and Arena Authority, which operates the new convention center and Van Andel Arena.

“The business is coming. But the business is not here just yet.

“We think the time for new inventory is in the range of ’07. That is our timing plan to bring on the new hotel.”

Tomaselli added that the occupancy rate wasn’t high enough locally right now to warrant building another hotel downtown. Besides, he said, the area’s hospitality industry is still smarting from an economic downturn that began almost three years ago.

“We’re starting to rebound, but the bounce back has not been as strong as we’ve seen in some of the other gateway cities around the country. DeVos Place is going to do that for us, but it’s going to take a little longer,” he said.

The Amway Hotel Corp. operates the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and the Courtyard by Marriot, located on Monroe Avenue south of Pearl Street.

The Amway Grand has 682 rooms, seven restaurants, and is rated by the industry as a four-star and four-diamond hotel.

The Courtyard has 214 rooms and is connected to the Amway Grand by an enclosed walkway.

A new hotel would be the third in the lodging portfolio for Alticor, formerly the Amway Corp. founded by Richard DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

“The Van Andel and DeVos families really want to do it for downtown,” Tomaselli said.

“We think it’s going to help the momentum continue to move forward for our region, if you will, and particularly for downtown. This is another commitment the families are making for an investment in downtown.”

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