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McCamly Plaza McCamly Plaza COURTESY PHOTO

Battle Creek economic development organization to upgrade downtown McCamly Plaza Hotel

BY Monday, November 09, 2020 05:35pm

BATTLE CREEK — Battle Creek Unlimited is planning a complete renovation and rebranding of the 15-story, 239-room McCamly Plaza Hotel in downtown Battle Creek.

The economic development organization, doing business as 50 Capital Ave Development Corp., acquired the property at 50 Capital Ave. SW on Nov. 3, officials announced today.

The acquisition resulted from a lawsuit Battle Creek Unlimited filed against previous hotel owner Neil Freeman and other entities after failing to meet a deadline to complete improvements. Developers planned to rebrand the hotel as a Hilton DoubleTree. BCU had lent $3.5 million to the owners for the rebrand.

It is rare for an economic development organization to pursue ownership and redevelopment of a project like this, but Battle Creek Unlimited has found itself “stepping into the developer role more frequently,” said BCU President and CEO Joe Sobieralski.

“We did this for several reasons, one being we know we desire a well-run, well-furbished hotel downtown,” Sobieralski told MiBiz.

Battle Creek has increasingly lost international business travel to surrounding communities, Sobieralski said.

“We do know we’re acquiring this at a difficult time, but we also believe we’re hitting this at the right time,” Sobieralski said, adding that the hotel is planned to reopen in 2022.

With promising news today about the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, Sobieralski is hoping for some return to economic normalcy in 2022. Pfizer Inc. announced Monday that an early analysis of its COVID-19 vaccine trial showed a promising success rate in preventing the spread of the virus.

The hotel on the property opened in 1981 as the Stouffer Battle Creek Hotel. The building is located next to the Kellogg Arena and has an event space that can hold 500 people at full capacity. The property also includes a J.W. Barleycorn’s restaurant.

The hotel has been closed since November 2019 after the city of Battle Creek announced the owners were shutting it down for six months to make renovations, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported.

Battle Creek Unlimited will bring two international hotel brands to Battle Creek for the project, in addition to contracting with a hospitality management group to oversee day-to-day operations of the hotel. Improvements planned include new mechanical equipment, an exterior facade makeover, guest room renovations and upgrades to the event space.

“We are eager to return this iconic property back to its glory with a complete refresh,” Sobieralski said. “Having a modern, well-run and updated hotel in the heart of downtown is essential to the economic prosperity and continued revitalization of downtown Battle Creek.”

The renovation and rebranding process will require several months of planning and design.

Hudsonville-based hotel hospitality management company Suburban Inns has been retained by BCU to assist with rebranding and renovations.

“We are excited to assist Battle Creek Unlimited to develop, rebrand, renovate and position this property for future growth,” Suburban Inns CEO Peter Beukema said in a statement. “The property has tremendous potential due to its unique size, location and event space. I am confident that this property can be transformed into a showpiece that’s a regional draw for Battle Creek.”

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