Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 8, 2013

Work to begin for new hotel

By BRIAN McGILLIVARY bmcgillivary@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY —The $15 million Hotel Indigo project found itself mired in a traffic jam of financial, bureaucratic, and engineering problems for almost two years, but the looming start of demolition shouldn’t have a similar affect on area motorists, city officials said.

Demolition is slated to begin Monday, but the proposed boutique hotel’s developers haven’t requested lane closures for the three streets that box the .83-acre site between Hall Street, Garland Street, and Grandview Parkway.

The brick walls of the former Midas muffler shop on the corner of Hall Street and Grandview Parkway sit less than a dozen feet from the two streets, but city Engineer Tim Lodge said he has no concerns.

“They are not very tall buildings; there shouldn’t be any problems,” Lodge said from the site. He then turned and knocked on the wall. “We’ll see what happens Monday.”

Some local officials are holding their breath. The Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority announced the start of demolition, but developer Jeffrey Schmitz, a principal at J.S Capitol Construction, could not be reached for comment. His construction manager for the project declined comment.

Jean Derenzy has worked on the project since its inception in the spring of 2010 as director for the county brownfield authority. She acknowledged being a bit gun shy because of the project’s many stops and starts.

“It’s frustrating for the public, but for the people who are working on it, it is even more frustrating,” she said.

No single reason stalled the project, but it’s run into a number of unforeseen problems, Derenzy said, in part thanks to its size and scope.

The hotel will consist of 105 rooms, conference facilities, a health spa, pool, restaurant, a rooftop lounge and 79 underground parking spaces.

Schmitz said in the spring of 2011 the project was on hold because he couldn’t find financing. Then officials announced in August of 2011 that financing had been secured and demolition would begin soon. Those predictions and others fell by the wayside as new problems cropped up.

Some city officials wanted to run a tunnel under Grandview Parkway to assist the hotel project, but dropped that idea when cost projections skyrocketed and developers discovered the water table was too high.

Then came the word that development site ground water contained cyanide and other contaminants, a blow that added almost $700,000 to project costs and boosted the total price of environmental cleanup and remediation to $1.5 million.

Those discoveries also required changes to the city’s brownfield plans, new funding, and local, state, and federal governmental approvals.

Schmitz told the Record-Eagle in November demolition would begin “definitely before the end of December.”

Fences went up and equipment rolled onto the site, but the buildings remained intact.

There’s a chance buildings may not be leveled on Monday, but the developers have the necessary permits to begin work, officials said.

“I think everything is in place and believe the hotel will be able to move forward on Monday,” Derenzy said.