By Nicole Hennessy
Could a hotel be feasible in downtown Lakewood? The city is now considering this question. In the preliminary stages of deciding this yes or no question, a committee comprised of city leaders and business owners has been meeting, and will open the discussion to include the public sometime in October.
Councilman Shawn Juris, who suggested the feasibility study, said they’ve been looking at whether or not the market forces are in their favor in terms of opening a boutique hotel, bed and breakfast or a banquet facility.
“We’re still at the point of getting a vendor to start on the research to check into supply and demand,”
Just weeks after an already successful hostel opened in the Detroit Shoreway area, this discussion seems relevant. But Lakewood’s been considering the idea for a few years now.
Already there are two hotels on the east end of Lake Road, but Juris identified one of the major problems with these establishments. Like hotels located off freeways, they do little to encourage visitors to explore the city. Now that the main part of Detroit Avenue contains popular restaurants like Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar and Melt Bar and Grilled, there’s added incentive to show people the new Lakewood.
“If we’re going to be attracting visitors, we want them to get the experience of our commercial corridors,” Juris said. “We want to bring them into the heart of the city.”
In an effort to convey their intention to avoid the off-highway hotel model, Juris and the committee members have deliberately used terms like “boutique hotel,” implying something more unique.
Another important question that’s being considered is, “What’s the right size?”
While there’s not enough space in downtown Lakewood for a large hotel, something like what’s on Clifton already – small chain hotels that contain about 50 rooms – might work. In fact, Juris said he would be interested in having one of the existing establishments, such as Days Inn, move from its current location to a new site.
“They’re already businesses in Lakewood; maybe they would see that a different location and upgraded facility would be beneficial to their operations,” he explained.
One of the most difficult things about Lakewood and what kinds of businesses to fill it with is its distinct diversity. This sets the city apart from its fellow Westshore suburbs. In Westlake, where a new hotel will be built at Crocker Park, the questions to consider have to do with traffic and aesthetics. In Lakewood, a lot of the deciding factors in terms of new development have to do with character or protecting a culture its residents are historically concerned about. Juris realizes this and joked that the conversation about determining Lakewood’s character or branding has been going on as long as Lakewood has been around.
“I think it’s difficult to say that Lakewood is one single thing,” he explained. “It’s everything. The housing stock is different, the type of occupations that we have are different, the types of backgrounds that we have are different. I think that anytime you try to say that ‘this is the Lakewood brand,’ the only thing that you get is an argument about how you’re wrong.”
That being said, whatever does come out of this feasibility study will likely fit the needs of the suburb and possibly help it tap into the tourism and success of many of Cleveland’s neighborhoods. Just down the road from the West Side Market, all those well-fed travelers who have been increasing in number will need new neighborhoods to explore and new hotels at which to stay.
Juris said when the public is invited to discuss this development, the announcement will be made on the onelakewood.com site.