Riverfront hotel kicks off Detroit’s next community benefits process

Detroiters will have an opportunity to secure community investments from developers planning a 600-room luxury riverfront hotel connected to Huntington Place Convention Center.

City law requires developers behind projects that are worth at least $75 million and receive at least $1 million in tax abatements to meet with residents and negotiate a community benefits agreement. A nine-member neighborhood advisory council will represent residents living in an “impact area” drawn by the Planning and Development Department. Past agreements have secured millions of dollars in donations for neighborhood programs and organizations, as well as commitments to hire Detroiters and support area businesses.

(Image provided by the city of Detroit)

A notice posted by the city of Detroit shows the first meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Jan. 9 at Huntington Place. Two members of the neighborhood council will be selected at the second meeting on Jan. 16. Residents who wish to serve on the council or vote must appear in person.

The remaining seven members are selected by the planning department and City Council members. Members must commit to attend weekly meetings over roughly two months. The neighborhood council is tasked with identifying impacts of the development and advocate for community benefits, resulting in a signed agreement that receives final approval by the City Council. 

Parking will be validated at the Fort/Washington Garage. Residents can also participate in the process and watch meetings online. For more information visit the city’s website or email [email protected]

Census data shows roughly 1,550 people live within the impact area, of which 49% are Black and 38% are white. The median income is $88,281, which is more than double the median income for Detroit overall. 

The hotel will sit on the former site of Joe Louis Arena, redubbed “Water Square,” next to a new 496-unit upscale apartment tower expected to open in early 2024. Private investment firm The Sterling Group is leading the hotel project. Construction of the hotel is expected to start in the second quarter of 2024, according to the city. 

A 25-story hotel would include a ground floor restaurant, a lobby bar, two ballrooms, 50,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a swimming pool, spa and fitness area. A pedestrian walkway would connect the building to Huntington Place. 

The city notice said Detroit is at a “significant disadvantage” when competing for convention business due to a lack of hotel rooms connected to or within walking distance of the convention center. 

There are roughly 5,000 downtown hotel rooms, according to the Downtown Detroit Partnership, a nonprofit business development group. The occupancy rate at downtown hotels hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to DDP data. 

Consulting firm HVS Global Hospitality Services found a limited number of downtown hotel rooms is holding back growth in the city’s lodging market. 

Two new downtown hotels are included in the latest plans for the $1.5 billion District Detroit project, which also completed the community benefits process. 

Detroit is set to host the 2024 NFL Draft and NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in 2027. 

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