Bush League— County commissioners swing and miss

. April 23, 2019.

Downtown is on the rise, with economic development professionals and corporate heavy hitters swinging for the fences.
Much of the rebirth over the past decade or so has been focused on the area around Fifth Third Field. Monroe Street, Huron, St. Clair, Superior, and the storefronts adjacent to the ballpark have also seen new life. Hensville is the icing on the Joe Napoli cake.

More recently the Summit Street corridor has seen massive investment and renovation. Witness ProMedica’s new HQ and affiliated parking garage, with new tenants, Genoa Bank and City Egg. The redevelopment of the former KeyBank building with the Chop House and Barry Bagels. The redevelopment of the old OC Fiberglass Tower and commercial spaces in the attached parking structure, including Balance and its upcoming state-of-the-art organic hydro-farm. Heck, there’s even a new Starbucks downtown!

What the H?

And that eyesore shell of the old Hotel Seagate, which was a Holiday Inn for decades, is next. The building was purchased by Lucas County to secure it for redevelopment years ago. The County Commissioners have now trumpeted their successful search for a development partner.

“The Lucas County Commissioners are thrilled to announce the redevelopment and operation of a new 200+ room hotel at the corner of Summit Street and Jefferson Avenue,” the media release proclaims. “The former Hotel Seagate, which closed in 2009, will be fully renovated and open as a dual-branded Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites hotel and will serve as the dedicated hotel to the SeaGate Convention Centre,” downtown’s convention center.

Wait a minute. We distinctly heard the new hotel was going to be a dual-branded Hyatt hotel, not Hilton/Homewood. What the H?
After searching the archives, a second look at the date on that triumphant media release sent out by the County shows November 28, 2017. Huh?

Oh yeah. The saga of the Seagate.

First the County decided to demolish it and look for someone to develop a new hotel on the site. Half way into the demolition, they were told the concrete structural shell should be saved to make redevelopment less costly. In the meantime, the resultant hulk made the corner of Jefferson and Summit a laughingstock.

Then came that triumphant media alert of November 28, 2017. A developer had been found, a financing deal was in place, and a snazzy artist’s rendering of the new hotel blared across the Frog-o-sphere.

Except the deal eventually fell apart, the developer backed out, and the empty husk of old hotel continued to fester, an eyesore on the riverfront.

Won’t get fooled again

Behold! It’s deja vu all over again! The Commissioners recently held a media event and announced a brand new developer, and a new financing deal, and an even snazzier artist’s rendering of an even newer hotel has blared across the Frog-o-sphere.
Fool us once, Pete Gerken, shame on you, But fool us twice? Like the Who sang, we won’t get fooled again.

All of this silliness begs the question. Why does the County, and Gerken in particular, insist on masquerading as development professionals? Why don’t they outsource the task to those with expertise and a track record?

Speaking of track record, go on over to Jefferson and Summit and see for yourself. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the new deal to produce results.

And about that latest media announcement about developing the site? Sorry, Pete, but we won’t get fooled again.