No Parking For Hotel

April 13, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Moch International has to look elsewhere for parking spaces to support the $16 million hotel it wants to build in the Monroe North Business District after parking commissioners voted last week not to enter into a long-term lease with the firm.

Moch International, doing business as Icon Hotel LLC for the project, wanted to lease 70 spaces for 20 years in the North Monroe lot at

Monroe Avenue
and
Trowbridge Street
to provide guest parking for the 118-room hotel it said it plans to put up on the northwest corner of Trowbridge and
Bond Avenue
.

Parking commissioners, though, decided not to go forward with negotiations. And when commissioners briefly talked about possibly studying the lease request further, Icon Hotel Principle Joseph W. Moch told them to forget about doing that.

“I’d rather not have that, so we can go forward on this. This is ridiculous,” he said.

Joseph A. Moch, also a principle in Icon Hotel, told commissioners that he and his father had looked at other options for parking but came up empty. He said a parking ramp can’t be built on the hotel site, as the firm did for its Icon on Bond condominium project that is located across Trowbridge from the hotel property.

“It would allow us to invest $16 million into the area and create 20 to 30 long-term, full-time jobs,” he said, while adding that they have a hotel operator lined up.

“We’re looking at this as more of an interim deal,” said Joseph W. Moch. “We’re looking at other options, but parking is expensive.”

A lease would have left the city with control of the property, but would have required the city to find replacement parking if the lot was sold for development. A lease would also have let Parking Services charge the developers $81.50 per space, or $5,705 per month, for the 70 spaces. The lot’s current monthly rate is $39 per space.

The price to the Mochs included that fee and a $42.50 per-space charge for evening parking, a fee that would have given hotel guests 24-hour access to their vehicles. Right now, the lot gate is left up on most nights and weekends.

Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said the department likes to keep public spaces unreserved and open to the public. But she also noted that the hotel would stir economic activity in the business district and send more tax dollars to the city.

Ritsema said more developments like the hotel would likely lead the city to build a ramp there, and she suggested to commissioners that they go forward with negotiations as spaces are available in the lot. But four commissioners didn’t agree.

“Hotels are profit centers, and parking is expensive. But parking on the riverfront is not the best use,” said Parking Commissioner Lisa Haynes.

Parking Commissioner Monica Sekulich said other downtown hotels have provided parking for guests; helping the Mochs wouldn’t be fair to them.

“Development did occur without leasing assistance,” she said.

The Mochs originally planned to build an apartment complex on the hotel site, which is in the Renaissance Zone, and they hope to start building the hotel this summer. Work on their Icon on Bond project is expected to be completed in June.

“We’d like to build an apartment complex over there,” said Joseph A. Moch of the site now targeted for a hotel, “but we can’t afford the parking.”    

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