Downtown Rockford hotel plan raises parking questions

Kent County

ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Rockford is planning to break ground soon on a boutique style, suites-only hotel along Main Street. 

The three story, 54-room Hotel Rose will be located at 12 South Main Street and include an indoor pool, fitness center, 170-seat banquet room, parlor, lobby bar and restaurant.

Project managers say the hotel will also have a turn of the century style porch with wooden tables, chain-hang chandeliers and rocking chairs. Officials say there will also be bike storage for guests and pedestrians.

While the plans also call for designated parking, some Rockford business owners are concerned the proposed hotel’s location could eliminate valuable downtown parking spaces.

“I want it to fit in with the Rockford community and be part of the community. I think that’s the most important thing,” said Barb Stein, who’s owned The Great Northern Trading Company for the last 42 years.

She says she’s concerned about parking but trusts the city’s judgment. 

“If you have a parking problem it’s really good because business is good and you have people,” Stein said. “It’s a hard thing to address, but I know the city of Rockford is addressing the parking problem effectively.”

Rockford City Manager Thad Beard says the city has floated several ideas to make up for the loss of spots and need for more parking to accommodate hotel guests.

“Parking is an issue in our downtown so we wanted to validate that concern one way or the other. So, we’ve hired a pretty good firm to come in and do a full analysis of what our parking needs are and what would the parking demands be if a hotel comes in,” Beard said.

The city of Rockford believes a parking “deck” could be an effective replacement. The city and hotel project managers are funding a parking study to evaluate the location and scope of a downtown parking deck.

Beard believes such a deck could be built across the street from the future location of the hotel rather easily.

“Parking decks maximize the geography of any given location,” Beard said. “The elevation dips several feet so we could hide two parking levels while still keeping our downtown look.”

Maintaining Rockford’s unique look and feel throughout hotel construction is also among the concerns. Orion Construction says its goal in building the Rose Hotel is complementing the city.

“We want to emphasize everything that’s already here. We’re not trying to come in and have an eyesore that’s ten-story tall,” said Jason Wheeler of Orion Construction. “We’re trying to find something that matches the streetscape that the people have already reflected a need for and we feel fits the character of the city.”

The city manager says the need is real. Beard says the city turns away potential overnight guests almost routinely. 

“Since 2008 we’ve identified that there is a need,” Beard said. “We want people to come and spend a few days in Rockford and right now there is a very difficult ability for that to occur unless they stay in Grand Rapids or another neighboring community.”

Stein and other local business owners tend to agree.

“We get calls every day at our chamber of commerce for rooms to stay. People want to come here for more than a day,” she said.  “They can shop, use the trail, eat. And without any accommodations, we have to send them elsewhere.”

Construction on Hotel Rose is expected to start in early 2020. Officials anticipated it will open in 2021.

The hotel is expected to generate 80 jobs.

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