During the past several months, a committee of city and business leaders has met to discuss whether downtown Lakewood could sustain a hotel.
Their brainstorming sessions resulted in Lakewood City Council taking the first step Monday to explore the issue further.
Council unanimously OK’d spending $7,000 — from the city’s economic development fund — on a feasibility study.
Ward 3 city councilman Shawn Juris, who first pitched the idea to council in April, has been active on the committee.
The group has talked about capitalizing on some of the development in downtown Cleveland — think casino and Medical Mart — as well as the development along Detroit Avenue in Lakewood.
“From the feasibility study, but also without any preconceived ideas, I would expect that an operator could come in and convert office spaces,” he said, noting Lakewood Center North could be a potential location. “But it may not be that simple.”
Some of the early feedback suggested that a hotel off of Interstate 90 would make the most sense.
“Personally, I believe it makes more sense to put it in the city itself so that the other businesses around could benefit as well,” he said.
He also noted that the plans may not necessarily call for a large hotel, but perhaps a smaller boutique hotel.
“Nothing is off the drawing board,” Juris said. “Everything is on the table right now.”
The study will seek to identify several components, such as how many guests could support a hotel, where the guests would come from and other market conditions.
In years past, previous studies showed that the city couldn’t support a hotel. But city officials say the issue keeps popping up again — and noted that it’s time to reconsider the issue.
Lakewood-based Hotel and Leisure Advisors has already provided voluntary feedback to the committee.
The company will be one of the groups likely to bid on the project, Juris said.
Patty Ryan, the executive director of the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, said recently that a feasibility study is the next logical step.
Among other reasons, Ryan cited the new University of Akron Lakewood campus and the surrounding “destination” restaurants as attractions.
“A hotel is just another piece of the puzzle,” she said.
One of the ideas she’s floated for possible locations is some of the vacant space at Lakewood Center North.
“Would you want to have a wedding there? Maybe not, but it would be a logical (spot),” she said, adding that other discussed locations are along the Rocky River or along Interstate 90.
“This is why we’re doing a feasibility study,” she said.