By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — A Staybridge Suites is close to becoming the third hotel along Cinema Way in Benton Township.
The Benton Township Planning Commission approved site plans for the proposed hotel Monday after they were submitted by hotel developer Sam Sandia. Prior to the meeting, the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals met and approved a height variance for nearly 15 feet.
The Staybridge Suites hotel would be at 1275 Cinema Way, across from the Hilton Garden Inn and adjacent to Sandia’s other hotel that is still in construction – the Marriott Spring Hill Suites Hotel.
News of the additional hotel came when workers began clearing trees and brush in the area next to the Marriott.
Township Building Inspector Tom Baldwin said the Staybridge Suites would have 88 rooms, 100 parking spots and be four stories high – in line with the Marriott, which also received a height variance.
The variance was needed because the land is zoned D-1 commercial. The zoning ordinance states a structure’s maximum height in D-1 is 40 feet.
Project architect Michael Maust was present for both meetings to answer questions.
Maust said the Staybridge Suites hotel chain targets business travelers in town for an extended stay of two to three days. Maust said the hotel will have a brick exterior and cultured stones in three colors for the hotel’s facade.
The majority of the rooms would be studio suites.
In the works
Baldwin told planners that the Berrien County Drain Commission gave the hotel its tentative approval. However, the Berrien County Road Commission remains in talks with the hotel’s developer to see if the increased traffic flow of three hotels would cause any problems.
“You’re approval tonight would be contingent on the road commission’s decision,” Baldwin said.
There is no project cost listed yet for the Staybridge Suites because the developers are only required to submit the cost of construction when handing in the building permit application, Baldwin said.
If the project gains final approval, the Cinema Way corridor near Nickerson Avenue would have three hotels with a total of 268 rooms.
Nancy VandeVrede, who lives on Nickerson Avenue behind the new project, asked planners to have the developer build a fence to cut down on walk-through traffic and establish property lines.
“I think good fences make good neighbors,” VandeVrede said.
Work on the Marriott began Dec. 8, nearly a week after the $8.5 million project received final approval from trustees. The Marriott is at 1255 Cinema Way and will be four stories high with 92 rooms.
The Marriott is scheduled to be finished this summer. There is no timeline set for the Staybridge Suites, although Baldwin told planners Monday the developer wishes to begin work within 30 days of final approval.