By Jeff Gallatin
City and business officials are happy that two multimillion-dollar projects are now bigger and better.
A revamped proposal for a new 120-room Hampton Inn Hotel to be built on a currently vacant parcel at the southwest corner of Country Club Boulevard and Columbia Road was approved by City Council Aug. 20. The project initially came before the city five years ago, but was stalled, like many projects, during the Great Recession. It was recommended by the Building Zoning and Development Committee after its Aug. 13 meeting.
In addition, council also approved specifications for the Regal Cinema and new restaurant at Westfield Great Northern Mall. Mall and city officials said it remains on track to be ready in December.
City planning and development Director Kim Wenger said the projects are a big plus for the city.
She noted the hotel project is now bigger than it was when originally proposed several years ago.
“The proposal consists of a new 120-room hotel to be constructed on the vacant parcel at the southwest corner of Country Club Boulevard and Columbia Road,” she said. “The hotel will be developed on the western portion of the site, with the remainder of the site to remain vacant for possible future development. This proposal, in a slightly smaller format (96 rooms), was approved by the city in 2008 but never constructed. The approved plans and permits had since expired. We are pleased that this project has been rejuvenated and we appreciate the synergy between the increase in food and entertainment options in the Great Northern area and the increase in accommodations, which will bring more visitors to our city.”
Erik Allen, the site development director for the hotel project, said the developers were thrilled to be able to bring the project back to North Olmsted.
“I don’t think heartbroken is too strong a word to describe how they felt when they couldn’t get it going five years ago,” Allen said. “Now that they can again bring it forward, they’re very excited about getting it going.”
Allen said project officials hope to have the last of the engineering done by November and to get the actual project done in 2014.
“North Olmsted has been very supportive and worked with us to get this done,” he said.
Wenger was also pleased that the mall project continues its steady progress.
“The proposal involves amendments to approved plans for Westfield Great Northern,” she said. “The changes include modifications to the previously approved Regal Cinema facade, changes to one of the adjacent retail spaces to accommodate The Rail restaurant, and signage for Regal, The Rail and Westfield. The city expects submittals for two additional tenant spaces will be brought forward by Westfield in the near future, which will complete the redevelopment of that area of the mall. Regal Cinema amendments include color and material changes to the exterior and most notably the colorful addition of the sign marquee. There is also flush-mounted accent lighting intermittently on the south face of the building. The tenant fit-out for the exterior of The Rail includes a storefront of brick piers with a limestone base, a grid pattern black aluminum storefront and steel decorative canopies. The space will also include a patio.”
Mall marketing Director Annie Dorsey said the overall plan was originally approved before specific uses and tenants were identified.
“Now that we’ve announced specific tenants (The Rail, Le Grand Orchid, Mama Fu’s Asian House and Regal Cinemas), it was time to put their signage packages before the group for review,” she said. “The project is on track to open mid-December and this will include the 10-screen Regal Cinemas, the new main mall entrance and the restaurant tenants. We’re excited to bring this new entertainment district to the community, as shoppers have been asking Westfield for a theater and more, new-to-market restaurants for several years.”
Tim Smith, chairman of council’s Building, Zoning and Development Committee, was pleased to have the two major projects approved.
“They’re the type of projects we need to continue to help North Olmsted’s development,” he said.
Finance Committee Chairman Paul Barker said he’s pleased to have the projects moving.
“We’re thrilled that the hotel developers thought enough of North Olmsted that they made the effort to come back and still have the project here,” he said. “And the mall continues to be a strong partner with North Olmsted, which we appreciate.”
Jeff Herwick, president of the North Olmsted Chamber of Commerce, said the projects will provide strong benefits.
“It’s great because they’ll aid other businesses because they’ll be bringing people into the community who will be checking out other businesses while they’re in North Olmsted,” he said. “As a resident, I’m happy because we’ve needed theaters back in town, while the other businesses coming in are the type that are good for the city.”