At the corner of Monroe and Newberry Street on Grand Rapids’ north end, a Embassy Suites will overlook the Sixth Street Bridge and the Grand River. More than 270 luxury suites are scheduled for construction along with 5,000 square feet of convention space. Developer Suburban Inns has been working on the project since 2007. When the economy went south it was put on hold.
Kent County’s convention and visitor’s bureau, Experience Grand Rapids, indicates room occupancies have improved since then. But has it improved enough to facilitate the need for nearly 300 additional hotel rooms downtown? President and CEO Doug Small tells us in 2009, on an average night 48 percent of rooms were filled. Today it’s more than 60 percent.
“If you’re looking at where we were four years ago and you’re looking at today that’s probably pretty enticing for a developer. But where we are today is the national average. We’re not blowing away the national average we’re at the national average when it comes to occupancy and that occupancy being somewhere in the neighborhood of 61 percent. Which doing the math leaves me with 39 percent of my hotel rooms that I currently have an inventory to sell.”
Small says the north end is growing and as he puts it, he feels pretty good about attracting enough new business over the next several years to absorb the 270 rooms in the downtown market with the expansion of the Medical Mile and increased convention activity.
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