Proposal for on-campus hotel to go before board Thursday



A hotel could be constructed on campus, after two years of discussion and litigation.

A proposal to negotiate a land lease for a new hotel is up for approval by the CMU Board of Trustees Thursday. The hotel would be connected by a glass atrium to new stadium suites built onto Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

“This is going to give additional academic opportunities to students and tie into the Events Center,” said Steve Smith, director of public relations.

He said both developments — the Events Center and the proposal — would enhance each other.

The board meets at 10:30 a.m. in the Presidential Conference Room of the Bovee University Center.

If approved, the new project will be constructed in the football team’s practice field east of Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Smith said the project developer, Lodgco Management LLC, will make a full presentation to the board in which they will outline all the benefits of the plan.

The project, as it is currently designed, would include a national franchise hotel with approximately 150 rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, exercise facilities, business center, restaurant, conference space and other features.

If approved, University President George Ross will be able to negotiate and execute a fair market value land lease with the project developer, negotiate and execute a lease of stadium suites from the project developer, grant easements necessary for any utilities or access and create a commercial park for the leased land if necessary.

David Burdette, vice president of Finance and Administrative Service, was unavailable for comment.

According to the new proposal, this particular project developed after a previous plan approved in July 2008 to build a Holiday Inn hotel and office building complex within the Center for Applied Research and Technology stalled because of a lawsuit with LaBelle Limited Partnership.

LaBelle filed a lawsuit against the board in November 2008 over an alleged intentional breach of covenants when the board gave former University President Michael Rao full authority to sign a lease with Lodgco to construct the six-story hotel complex onto CART.

Lawsuit

According to previously published reports, LaBelle is suing for a halt on leasing the land to other parties and is seeking restitution for legal fees. However, they are not seeking additional money.

Smith said Lodgco’s new proposal preserves the objectives of the original CART project.

“We saw this as an opportunity to be able to move forward and so we’re exploring those options,” Smith said.

Smith said this is a private development between CMU and Lodgco, so university funds will not be used for construction. The proposal itself is a land lease between the two parties, he said.

“We’re looking at the possibility of leasing some land to them so they could (build and) use the hotel,” Smith said.

Royal Oak senior Justin Sczechowski said it sounds like a good expansion. He said a hotel would make the university more accessible for campus visitors and increase CMU’s profile among public universities in Michigan.

“It will make the school bigger which is again something of preference because it will help attract students,” he said.

Also included are stadium suites with new restrooms and concession spaces for the east side of the stadium. The university would lease the suites and provide an option to purchase.

Ada senior Erika Murray said she can see the benefits of the suites, but thinks the hotel is unnecessary.

“I think (the hotel) is kind of going over the top because our football program isn’t that big yet where we’re going to have many people who are going to come from way far away,” she said.

Other business

The board also will vote, among other things, to establish a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training and Doctor of Medicine degrees, adopt a new mission statement and university core values revision, and establish a College of Business Administration Foundation.

The foundation would facilitate fundraising efforts and assist in supporting and advancing major initiatives of the college.


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