Officials support Manistee’s Hampton Inn project


MANISTEE — The majority of people who spoke at a recent public hearing for the Hampton Inn in Manistee were in favor of the project.

A commercial rehabilitation district for the hotel, which is planned at 101 Lakeshore Drive, was unanimously approved by Manistee City Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

A public hearing was organized to allow citizens to talk about the project. Four out of five people are in favor of the project in its current version.

Gini Pelton of Manistee said she was happy with the project.

“Even if you adjust the taxes for this type of development, I believe it is still a win-win situation for our community. We are still going to get back all the resources that they are going to bring to our community in our community,” said said Pelton.

She noted that the amount of money the city was able to collect in taxes on the old Lakeshore Motel, which was located on the same property, is a far cry from the amount of taxes the Hampton Inn will generate when it’s finished.

“Anything they develop there will be good. And for those who may not know that 101 S. Lakeshore (Drive) when it was a motel was paying taxes at the rate of about $200,000 in the community or less; I didn’t get a chance to look at the exact numbers today. So if you think you’re losing money on the deal, you’re not losing money. We We’re always going to be ahead of this game than water and sewer…jobs…everything. Anyway, I totally support that.

Of the three others who spoke, all helped launch the project: Manistee County Board Chairman and Economic Development Board Chairman Jeff Dontz; Marc Miller, Director of Economic Development for the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce; and Peter Beukema of Hotel Ventures Manistee LLC., the project development company.

Dontz noted Manistee County Board of Commissioners was strongly supportive of the Commercial Rehabilitation District when it was introduced to members in December after being approved by Manistee City Council in November.

He said that the project had changed from the original proposal and that these changes were very positive.

“And as we all came together for this development, if the community asked for a much bigger increase than what was originally proposed by the planning commission, I can tell you that I support that. I think that was a positive change in the development of what we get comparable as originally proposed,” he said.

However, Dontz said changes to the project also mean changes to finances.

“It’s to acknowledge the fact that the community asked for these changes. Everyone approved of it and now it’s time to try to help give back a little bit. In the process, (we get) 11 times more tax incentives than what we got,” he continued.

Raising taxes on current property is in everyone’s interest, he said.

“So I’m definitely in favor of that. And I think it’s going to be a unique operation, and it’s probably one of the most unique going from Chicago to the (Mackinac) Straits,” Dontz said. “It’s just to have a hotel near Lake Michigan just isn’t there. So with that, I strongly support him.”

One person was less supportive of the project. Liz Lakey objected to the council accepting the tax abatement for the full 10 years and noted that the State of Michigan allows cities and municipalities that use the Commercial Rehabilitation District to grant tax abatements tax in a process from year to year. She said it would give the city an opportunity to review how the reduction works and whether or not to renew the reduction. She said it was a bad idea to give a 10-year commitment up front.

Laskey said that while the developers have made promises, they’re not the first to come to Manistee and not succeed. She noted that the reduction would carry over in the event of a change in ownership, that if the Hampton Inn moved to condos or timeshares, it would end up costing taxpayers $4 million.

Both Miller and Beukema countered by saying the 10-year cut is needed to get the project “over the hump.” Mayor Lynda Beaton also cited 2020 data on commercial rehabilitation districts established that year across the state and noted that the majority accepted them at the 10-year level.

“There were 39 certificates that were issued in the state of Michigan, covering all sections of the state,” Beaton said. “So I looked at them all and … of the 39 certificates that were issued, 32 were or were accepted at the 10-year-old request that they had.”

During the meeting, the board voted 7-0 to approve Hotel Ventures Manistee LLC’s commercial rehabilitation district application at the full 10-year level for the tax abatement.

Dontz noted the importance of the unanimous vote at the end of the meeting.

“What I should have said before and I didn’t is that when we have votes like this tonight, seven (to) zero, (in) regards to development – ( is that) development is following a path of least resistance and we all know we’ve got a bit of a reputation for having a bit of resistance here and as these guards come down and we embrace it , we’re going to have more development,” Dontz said.


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