A Houghton developer, Big Pond Properties, recently went before the Marquette Board of Zoning Appeals, seeking a variance so that it could build a four story Best Western hotel at 1200 and 1220 Wilson Street.
That’s on the corner of McClellan, across from Blue Cross Blue Shield, and not far from Econo Foods.
The variance? They wanted to build the hotel 57 feet high; the standard height there is 40 feet. The request was denied in a 4-3 vote.
They’ll be back.
The background: Big Pond is a subsidiary of Moyle Real Estate and Development. They’re the folks who built Country Inn and Suites and Hawks Ridge apartments years ago. They’ve also built the office park alongside the property for the proposed hotel.
After a recent, major rezoning by the city, the property in question was rezoned allowing for a hotel.
“We’ve been wanting to build a second hotel in Marquette ever since we built Country Inn and Suites,” says Andy Moyle, the president of the company, “but then the Recession hit and we put it off.”
But now, he says, the time and the market are right for a new hotel. Eighty rooms. A modern look. With a pedestrian walkway to Econo and Jeffrey’s Restaurant.
“Our architects and engineers are working on a re-design of the hotel,” Moyle says. “We’re going to come back to the Board, probably in June.” Either three or four stories, he says, but definitely lower than their first proposal, which drew criticism from some of the neighbors.
What the proposal tells us, of course, is that developers believe the tourism market here is still growing, and the need for hotel rooms is still unsatisfied.
The recent history: Hampton Inn opened in 2012, Nestledown B and B in 2015, Staybridge Suites in 2016, and My Place in 2017. The Beacon House on Third Street was recently bought for conversion to a hotel, a Fairfield Inn is due to be built near Founders Landing, the Ojibwa Casino will be building a hotel. And now a Best Western, in all likelihood..
On top of all that construction comes the explosive growth of Airbnb and VRBO in Marquette County, and the recent and ongoing major renovations at the Holiday Inn and the Landmark Inn.
For some odd reason, people are now clamoring to visit this humble, little town that was once thought to be located “in a sterile region on the shores of Lake Superior destined by soil and climate to remain forever a wilderness.”