By CYNTHIA KMETT
Once the site of a popular Chinese buffet, and before that the Troy Drive-In movie, the site has been vacant for years. Now the land at the corner of Maple Road and Executive Drive will become home to the newest member of the Hilton Hotel chain. It’s known as a TRU Hotel, and it comes with some colorful details in royal blue and canary yellow that will let you recognize it immediately. It was just added to the Hotel chain in 2016.
The hotel will have 124 rooms and be five stories in height, so you’ll be able to spot it from the adjoining I-75 as you pass by. Kenny Koza of Group 10 Management noted this is a mid-priced hotel in the $100 to $120 price range and is geared to millennials and other young travelers.
While it, like all hotels since 2016, needs special approval from the Planning Commission, it does not need rezoning as it is in the General Business zoning. Group 10 came ready to roll, as they even have seven extra parking spaces and four bicycle parking spaces. They also had a box full of building material samples and 3-D perspectives of the hotel, just as planners have been asking for.
The real problem for some planners was whether or not Troy needed another hotel. Despite Koza telling them this would be a $10 million project, and that Group 10 operates 13 other hotels (including one on Wilshire in Troy) as well as shopping centers and 20,000 parking spaces, some planners were still concerned. Several other planners said they suspected that Group 10 had done their market research before starting the planning process.
Koza added that a city like Troy and its business community could support 5,000 hotel rooms and that Troy only has about 2,500.
Commissioner Karen Crusse said she would rather have another luxury hotel and not one that offered people smaller rooms and a “fun” area in the lobby, which will have a business area as well as a lounge with beer and wine. Of course, all the rooms will have a 65-inch TV, which might make some travelers happy.
Naturally, there had to be an E.I.F.S. (which looks like stucco but isn’t) discussion. The planners were assured that the material has come a long way in the past 40 years and they have replaced the entire bottom of the hotel’s E.I.F.S. with much stronger materials.
They also didn’t want to change any of the TRU Hotel colors as those are what makes it recognizable to potential customers. Actually, Commissioner John Tagle wanted them to add some color to the side of the hotel facing southbound I75 to make it even more recognizable, to which they agreed. He also suggested they put some lighting along the sidewalks.
The vote to approve the project was 7-2 with Crusse and Commissioner Carlton Faison voting no.
Planning Director Brent Savidant said that there were experts in the field of how many hotel rooms a city can support and he would invite someone to come to Troy and make a presentation on that subject to the planners.
Then it was on to a discussion what they all want, design standards.
They tossed around words like “enhancements” and “compatibility” and “required” and it will take a bit of time for all their desires to be compiled into a list and for the city attorney, Lori Grigg Bluhm, to tell them if they are allowed to set such standards under state law. Standards have to be for the health, safety and welfare of the community, not just because they think the building is boring.
A new zoning ordinance is headed to City Council. This time it is will limit buildings in General Business zoning, which is Rochester Road and some of southern Troy, to just three stories and 40 feet in height. This replaces the current five stories and 75-foot height. This is a result of the public outcry when the proposed five-story, which was toned down to a four-story 1-800 Storage facility on Rochester Road just south of Long Lake, was approved. The zoning change was unanimously approved by the Planners.