by CYNTHIA KMETT
The Big Beaver Corridor Study called for the city to make the area more walkable. The guests at the proposed HOME 2 Suites by Hilton will be within easy walking distance to a lot of Troy amenities. It is proposed to go behind the Rehmann building as well as the strip centers at the corner of Big Beaver and Crooks.
Getting a five-story, 55,000-square-foot hotel on the west side of Wilshire approved for the small lot, 1.46-acres, was a tricky proposition. It took the developer Kenny Koza, president of Group 10 Management, some convincing and many changes to win the Troy Planning Commission’s approval. This is not a conditional rezoning, so this new hotel does not have to get city council approval, too.
Initially, the biggest hurdle was shared parking. The hotel doesn’t have the spaces needed for 107 suites. Group 10 entered agreements with the two surrounding building owners to allow hotel guests to park in their lots. A traffic study by OHM, the city’s parking consultant in this case, said the plan will work. Hotel guests will come in after the shoppers and diners on Crooks leave and the office workers on Big Beaver go home at the end of the workday. There appears to still be excess spaces in the plan. And, most guests at suite hotels go to work during the day and don’t return until later, often after they have eaten dinner. They also often stay for months when working on a project.
There is still one detail the planners would like to see resolved. While there is access to Wilshire Drive, the hotel guests might well be headed for Big Beaver. This would mean driving down a parking lane which has cars parked on both sides. Planning trustees Tom Krent and John Tagle were both concerned that cars might be speeding as they exited and cars backing out would hit them, as seeing over some of today’s bigger cars isn’t that easy. They wanted some kind of traffic calming for that strip of the parking lot.
The problem, Koza explained to them, is that Rehmann would not agree to them. And since this is not land that belongs to the developer and you can’t force the other owner to do something they don’t want to their property, it seemed like a stalemate.
Except in this case, the cross access agreement is part of the overall plan. So, the planners have asked the city attorney, the city engineers, and probably even the fire department, to make sure that the outlet to Big Beaver protects the health, safety, and welfare of everyone using it. City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm will make the decision on this question and what changes might be imposed. Koza also will again approach the property owner about potential calming devices and said he would put 10 mph signs on their own land.
Group 10 also made many other significant changes that the planners hadn’t liked when they first came to the table last month. Number one was the amount of EIFS material that would be used. Group 10 had a similar problem with the hotel they’ll be building on Maple Road. This time, however, almost all of the EIFS has been replaced with stone, taking it to only eight percent of the building material, which made the planners happy. Group 10 also put in 19 trees in the parking lot and added a pedestrian walkway.
There was also some concern about what would happen to the building if the hotel failed. Since one option was to turn it into apartments or condos, that shared parking made the planners nervous, Despite Koza assuring them that if that ever happened, and he didn’t believe it would, you needed three of the suites to make one apartment, and they had that parking available on site.
The planners, however, wanted the shared parking agreement to apply only to a hotel and Koza agreed.
In the vote to approve, Planning Trustee Karen Crusse was the only “no” vote, observing that just because someone wanted to build on these hard-to-work-with parcels, it didn’t mean they had to approve them.