By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — A change in engineers for the incoming Marriott Spring Hill Suites Hotel in Benton Township came as a surprise to township officials.
And it was especially surprising to the hotel’s original engineering firm.
Tim Miller, senior project manager for Bud Design and Engineering, said they discovered they were released as the architect/engineer of record for the $8.5 million project after reading a Herald-Palladium article about the changes being made to the hotel’s foundation. Among the changes was the hiring of Etchen Gumma LTD, an architecture firm in Farmington Hills.
Miller said the hotel’s developer, Harbor Hotel Investments LLC, did not tell them they were released and have yet to say why. Miller got confirmation from Benton Township Building Inspector Tom Baldwin, who forwarded a letter the developer sent him.
“There was no reason given,” Baldwin said. “Everybody has the right to make changes on a project. I was a little taken back because Tim was excellent to work with. For him to find out from someone other than the owner was a shock.”
Sam Sandiha, owner of Harbor Hotel Investments, said they decided to reach out to another firm that “wasn’t as busy.” Sandiha said they still intend to use the original site plans.
It was first reported in January the Marriott Hotel had to redo some of its footings and foundation because it did not fall within the township’s ordinances. Township officials put a halt on construction after a few on-site visits were made to the hotel at 1255 Cinema Way in December.
The township building department then ordered the project’s engineers to revise and resubmit documents on what changes were being made.
Miller said there was improper installation and incorrect construction methods done by the contractor, which led to the revised documents Bud Design had to submit. The design team was then changed at the owner’s request, Miller said.
“It had nothing to do with the design of the project. They felt a new designer/engineer would be able to move things along further,” Miller said. “The general contractor was found to be not in compliance with the approved construction documents, nor provided the necessary oversight by way of third party testing, and therefore the township had no choice other than to stop the project.”
Baldwin said Harbor Hotel Investments is acting as its own general contractor for the project.
Miller said the firm has worked with the developer on past projects, including an ongoing one in Grand Blanc.
“We tried our best to work with the contractor to come up with repair and remediation details that would appease the township and meet the ordinance,” Miller said. “The township approved those and the contractor still was not installing those correctly.”
Baldwin said there have been several resubmittals for the hotel since the project came to a halt the first time in December.
“The problem I ran into was the changes that were made in the field that didn’t comply with the plans submitted,” Baldwin said. “That happens every day on nearly every project. If something doesn’t make code, I require them to resubmit.”
The four-story hotel will cover about 62,700 square feet with 92 rooms. The site is across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn. Sandiha said the hotel’s expected date of completion is set for August.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 18, 2016)