Sick of unfinished motels, Fruitport Twp. tells developer to demolish them

Muskegon County

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Fruitport Township is taking action against a Detroit-area developer that left a pair of buildings unfinished.

Near the corner of Sternberg and Quarterline roads, there are two gray structures. The buildings, which are owned by Stellar Hospitality LLC, were meant to be motels but construction was halted after a legal debacle in 2019.

The issue started with the sale of the former Holiday Inn in downtown Muskegon. In 2013, developer Jon Rooks bought the hotel with plans of investing millions as he transformed it into the Delta by Marriott. In the contract, Rooks and the sellers agreed to a noncompete clause, which meant the sellers could not build any new hotels within a 14-mile radius for a number of years.

When Rooks discovered one of the sellers was a part of the project on Sternberg Road years later, he sued for violation of the noncompete clause. A judge ordered Stellar Hospitality to stop construction on the hotels in June 2019.

The buildings have sat unfinished and empty since. Passersby see tattered construction materials, broken fences and abandoned wood on the property.

Fruitport Township says the buildings are an eyesore and it now wants the developers to make a move. At the beginning of this year, the township adopted an anti-blight and -junk ordinance that allows it to take action against abandoned cars and buildings.

“You can’t just leave a structure in this environment and this location. It goes against all of our building codes, all of our ordinances and for the most part it violates health and safety of our residents, not to mention the eyesore,” Fruitport Township Treasurer Rose Dillon said. “When you go around there and there’s this wrapping blowing around the road, what a danger that is if that blew on somebody’s windshield?”

The township says Stellar Hospitality can demolish the structures or convert them into something else, like apartments. It says the developers will likely need to start over because the building materials have sat out in the elements for almost two years. It also noted that the developers would have to adhere to local zoning ordinances, which limits the kinds of businesses that can be built there.

The township sent a letter to the developer and says the developer doesn’t have much longer to respond before the township takes further action.

News 8 reached out to Stellar Hospitality for comment but did not hear back Thursday.

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