Best Western Hotel, Bigger Ace Hardware Store Pitched for Vacant Michigan Avenue in Saline

 07/13/2016 - 01:16

After more than two decades, Saline may be about to get its own hotel. In a special work session Monday night, Saline City Council members heard a proposal from hotel manager Mark Kuykendall, Ace Hardware store owner, James Junga and builder Jim Haeussler to construct a new hotel and an enlarged hardware store on property across the road from Rentschler Farm.

All three men are Saline residents with a commitment to the area. Junga spoke of his and Kuykendall’s children, particularly of his own son and heir to his business, Stephen, who also attended the meeting.

“Part of my interest here is to establish a footprint that this business can survive and succeed on for the next 50 plus years,” Junga said.

The work meeting was originally intended to discuss plans for lot 20 of the Sauk Trail Business Park, an area that was recently rezoned from I-2 Industrial to SPA-1, allowing for a greater variety of occupants. After detailed planning and replanning, the proposed development is now intended for lot 18 and part of 19.

“Plan C” was presented by Haeussler and was, as he said, “literally hot off the press.” He spoke of problems encountered in earlier plans and the decision to shift the location to enable what he said was “much better utilization of land.”

Haeussler said he has known Kuykendall for over 20 years and from time to time they have discussed ideas for a Saline hotel. He also said that many of the people who bought the 900 plus houses and condos his company has built in the area have asked where people can stay in Saline.

Apparently Kuykendall and Junga both approached Haeussler about building on the Sauk Trail property and he suggested a synergistic partnership on shared property. After the third set of plans both businessmen are happy with what they see.

The new Ace Hardware would be larger than its current space in “The Oaks” and would have a larger product line. It would sit in front of the hotel, closer to Michigan Avenue.

The hotel would be a four-story Best Western Plus boutique hotel with at least 65 and as many as 90 rooms. It would include a restaurant and a banquet facility capable of seating up to 100 guests.

Council members appreciated that Best Western’s business model allows the hotels to be customized to a given location, so it would not have to be a standardized building.

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The plan would include 60 parking spaces for Ace and about 100 for the hotel. It also calls for the hotel to have a shuttle service covering a 5-mile radius from the building.

The area development team believes that the project is very viable from a market standpoint. Councilman Jack Ceo remarked about how the hotel, nearby restaurants and the Emagine Theater proposed for the Commons at Sauk Trail would mutually benefit from their proximity.

“I want to say how pleased I am to see a hotel coming to Saline finally after 20 some years and it’s always been high on the wish list,” said Mayor Pro Tem David Rhoads. “And I’m also glad that it’s not a cookie cutter kind of hotel.”

Junga noted that his current Ace store is an anchor store for the Oaks and he feels responsible to fulfil his commitments there until a new anchor business is found. As a result, the new hardware store would go in after the hotel is built.

With the recently altered location, Junga is working hard on a revised land purchase proposal and he hopes to be able to present it at City Council next Monday, July 18. Detailed plans for the hotel and store are still a work in progress.

Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Reach him at bobcphotography@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.