EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated with comments from Walker Mayor Gary Carey.
WALKER — The Walker Planning Commision is set to consider plans for two conjoined hotels totaling 156 rooms just south of I-96.
Walker Hotel Group LLC, which owns the Baymont by Wyndam hotel in Walker, is planning the development at 2864 Walker Ave. that will total 105,000 square feet between the two facilities, including shared amenities. Meijer Inc. owns the 5.2-acre site between 3 Mile Road NW and I-96.
The site plan was tabled by the Walker Planning Commission on Dec. 7 because of insufficient information but is up for reconsideration for final site plan review on Jan. 20.
If approved, the development is one of several large-scale projects still being pursued across West Michigan despite abysmal hotel occupancy rates in 2020. Hotels hit historically low occupancy rates last year because of the pandemic. Kent County hit a low in April at 18 percent average occupancy rate. Occupancy rates at the end of 2020 were around 40 percent, which is lower than the break-even standard.
“We are excited to see the continued business growth in the north end corridor of the city,” said Walker Mayor Gary Carey. “As that growth comes, our infrastructure needs change as well, which we are doing a good job of keeping pace with. Some of these new businesses coming in have supply chains that extend beyond West Michigan and sometimes require employees or vendors to stay overnight in our city. So we see the need for additional hotel rooms to help support our growing economy.”
Aloft Hotel and TownPlace Suites are both under the Marriott International brand and would contain their own separate entrances and lobbies with a shared space between them that would include a fitness center, pool and outside patio area. Aloft Hotel is planned to have 75 rooms as well as a bar and restaurant, and TownPlace Suites is slated for 81 rooms. Both hotels would be four-story structures.
The amenities including the restaurant and conference rooms are meant for hotel guests, not the general public, though Meijer and its vendors would be able to use facilities for its meetings, according to planning documents.
There is currently one Aloft Hotel in Michigan, located in Detroit, while two TownPlace Suites are already located in the Grand Rapids region.
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