Originally Published: August 24, 2018 8:14 p.m.
Updated as of Friday, August 24, 2018 11:47 PM
A new 95-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel could soon join the downtown business community if the Prescott City Council agrees to lease a city-owned parcel of land to developers.
The project, which would tie in with the old railroad trestle that crosses Granite Creek near Granite Creek Park, would aid the city’s ongoing efforts to revitalize its Greenways, Prescott City Manager Michael Lamar said Friday, Aug. 24.
An agreement with developers WSH Hospitality, LLC, will be among the issues the council will consider at its 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28 voting meeting at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.
The proposal, which the council reportedly has discussed a number of times in previous closed-door executive sessions, involves leasing a 2-acre parcel near the corner of Sheldon and Montezuma streets to the developers for $15,000 per year.
The lease would be for 50 years, with one 30-year renewal option, as well as an option to purchase after the first five years of the lease for $300,000.
The city parcel was once eyed as a site for a new $8.5 million fire station/administration building, but those plans were put on hold, and ultimately abandoned, during the recession in the late 2000s/early 2010s.
The area also once housed a train car, which served as a part of several bars and restaurants over the years — the most recent of which was Roadhouse 69. That restaurant was demolished in 2006, and the old railcar was removed.
Lamar said this week that the city owns, and would continue to own, the old metal railroad trestle. The city also owns title to property generally located at 254 and 300 North Montezuma Street. The parcel, which currently houses a public parking lot, consists of just over 2 acres, and “has been unused or under-used for a significant period of time,” according to a city memo.
About nine or 10 months ago, Lamar said, the city was approached by Steven and Shane Shumway, who had recently developed a Residence Inn hotel in downtown Flagstaff, about the possibility of a new hotel in Prescott.
The developers had already looked at privately owned parcels, and asked Lamar if he had any other ideas. When the idea of leasing the city-owned land at Montezuma and Sheldon came up, he said, “They were extremely intrigued.”
As proposed, the Hilton Garden Inn would tie in with the railroad bridge, as well as with the scenic creekside area near the old Sam Hill Warehouse along Granite Street and the city’s community garden. It would also maximize the Greenways Trails that run along the creeks in the area.
The goal, Lamar said, would be “a better, nicer public park.” He added that the improved park area could one day host community events.
Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr agreed, noting that issues have arisen recently about overuse of the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza. The park area along Granite Street would offer an alternative to having so many community events on the plaza, she said.
Earlier this summer, Lamar launched a new Granite Creek Corridor Revitalization Committee, and in July he joined committee members on a walk along the trail near Sharlot Hall Museum to assess the area’s potential. He said at the time that the city was looking into a number of projects to clean up and revitalize the downtown creeks.
This week, Lamar said the hotel project was among the ideas he had in mind. When approached by the Shumways, he said, “We were looking for something to change the dynamics downtown.”
Developers would build the 70,000-square-foot business-class hotel at their own expense, according to a city memo.
Because portions of the property are within the floodway and floodplain, all of the 95 hotel rooms would be located in the upper floors.
The memo states that the hotel would be built to a height of “not more than 70 feet.” City officials say the hotel would consist of six stories, including the ground floor.
Because city code limits building height to 50 feet by right, the project would require a special use permit. Planning Manager George Worley said the application for the special use permit would go to the City Council separately. That likely will happen at a future meeting, Worley said — probably in conjunction with consideration of a needed zoning change for a portion of the property.
Orr said she expects the City Council to vote on the development agreement on Tuesday. She voiced her support for the project, noting, “One of the things I really like is that (the hotel) truly looks like Prescott.”
The 25-page development agreement is available online at: http://prescottaz.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=1608&Inline=True, beginning on page 62 of the council packet.
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