TRAVERSE CITY — East Bay Township lodging is looking like the start of a wedding good-luck charm — something old, something new.
New construction and remodeling of existing facilities are part of several hotel projects in the township.
A brand-new hotel is in the works directly to the west of Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park on a parcel that has been vacant for years. Bulldozers moved piles of dirt in early December at the 4.33-acre site at 1028 and 1076 U.S. 31.
A seven-story hotel is planned for the site of a former mini-golf course and amusement park. Property owner Michael Eyde said he is just waiting on final architectural plans, which he admits he keeps tweaking.
“My plans are almost complete,” said Eyde, principal owner of Eastbay One LLC, which is owned by parent company LandOne LLC. “I don’t see myself starting that project this year because that gets me too close to winter.”
While the project has yet to begin, time hasn’t put a damper on Eyde’s enthusiasm.
He said the 150-room hotel will be almost 80 feet high after the site is given 3 feet of grading. Eyde said the site plan has been approved and the Federal Aviation Administration has also approved the project.
Eyde said the independent hotel, which will be called EastBay One or East Bay One and will be across the highway from the state park beach, will offer unobstructed views of the bay from half of the rooms. He claimed that’s something no other hotel on the south side of U.S. 31 can offer.
“We’re aggressively going after TC,” Eyde said. “We’ve got the best site in town.
“It’s really a cool environment. It’s dynamic.”
Eyde said the dirt piles that dominate the site will likely be flattened out this year. He added the concrete and steel building will go up quickly once the project starts.
“I don’t want anything to hold us up when we get the green light,” Eyde said. “We’ll go vertical in 2020 and be open for business in the spring of 2021.”
Doug Mansfield, of Mansfield Land Use Consultants, is the local representative on the project. Eyde said Mansfield has been a key component on the project and that he is still “absolutely part of it.”
Further east in East Bay Township, the Baywatch Resort, which opened in June 2017 at 1529 U.S. 31, is preparing to launch an expansion project on an adjoining parcel to the east.
Josh Wuerfel, who along with his wife Tanya owns Baywatch and the Beach Haus Resort to the west, said the “really slow process” is in its infancy.
“We’re in the process of finalizing plans with engineering and structural and submitting them to the county code office within the next couple of weeks,” Josh Wuerfel said.
The Baywatch Resort has 51 rooms and the new building is expected to add another 46 rooms. There will be a second-floor bridge connecting the two buildings, similar to what is part of the Cherry Tree Inn and Suites further east on East Grand Traverse Bay.
“It’s very similar to what (the Wuerfel family) did at Grand Beach and Sugar Beach when we built those properties,” Wuerfel said of the connection. “It’s going to be a nice project. The buildings are separated by 30 feet by East Bay (Township) Zoning with a bridge connecting the two buildings.”
An existing building on the adjacent parcel has been knocked down and construction is awaiting the final permitting process, Wuerfel said. He added the goal is to be open by July 1, 2020.
The second building has been part of the plans for a while.
“When we had originally bought the parcel that the Baywatch sits on, we bought the surrounding parcel a couple of months later with the idea that we would add on,” he said.
The Baywatch Resort closed last winter and will close again this coming offseason, but Wuerfel said that decision will be re-evaluated later.
A remodeling project is taking place at The Hampton Inn, located at 1000 U.S. 31. Exterior renovations underway at the hotel include adding a parapet as well as other architectural improvements.