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Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Hotel on Jackson Avenue: Developer submits site plan for Hampton Inn & Suites

By Lizzy Alfs


A rendering of the proposed Hampton Inn & Suites on Jackson Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Giffels Webster

An Ann Arbor hotel owner, banking on increasing occupancy rates, is reviving plans to build a Hampton Inn & Suites on Jackson Avenue.

Akram Namou of A&M Hospitality and Executive Hospitality, also the owner of the Clarion Hotel on Jackson, submitted a site plan this week to the city of Ann Arbor for a Planned Project at 2910 Jackson Ave., adjacent to the Clarion. Namou owns the 8.8-acre site.

The four-story, 100-room Hampton Inn & Suites would include a workout facility and an indoor pool. There would be 101 parking spaces, walkway access from Jackson Avenue and landscaping features.


This vacant property, viewed from the parking lot of the Clarion Hotel, could soon be occupied by a Hampton Inn.

Lizzy Alfs |

Namou’s plans were approved by the city and partially constructed in 2008, but financing issues stalled the project with minimal work completed at the site. The site plan expired in 2012.

At a citizen participation meeting held on Jan. 17, a handful of neighbors attended to provide feedback on the plans.

“This development, also being within the confines of a major freeway and large arterial road, was probably seen as a good fit for the area and may have alleviated many issues that would have brought the citizens out to the meeting for clarification,” civil engineer Andy Wakeland of Giffels Webster wrote in a report.

Wakeland told that if the hotel is approved, it would be constructed closer to I-94 and the hotel parking would be located in the front of the building.

Comments raised by neighbors included a request for additional green space on the site, and someone asked whether there is a demand for more hotel rooms in the area.

In response, Wakeland said the development team “exhaustively” reviewed the level of demand and determined it was a safe investment for Namou. Washtenaw County hotel occupancy rates were at about 66 percent in 2012, said Charles Skelton of Hospitality Advisors.

Namou also hopes to “forego the usual Walmart-style synthetic stucco walls and use colored brick material” so the hotel fits with the surrounding area, according to Wakeland’s report. They are submitting a plan to the Michigan Department of Transportation to get a traffic light installed on Jackson Avenue near the site.

The Planned Project will go before Ann Arbor’s Planning Commission in March. If approved, the development team hopes to begin construction this spring and finish the project in summer 2014.


The Hampton Inn & Suites would be constructed on the west side of an 8.8-acre site containing a Clarion Hotel.

Giffels Webster

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Lord love a duck! A new Hampton Hotel? Sounds alright. Built by the owners of the Clarion?? Are you kidding me? I have lived here for 2 1/2 years and for the entire first year, I thought the Clarion was an abandoned building. Eyesore doesn't even begin to describe it. I am sure that development dollars are highly desired, but any 'approval' for this developer MUST come with a requirement for SOMETHING to be done with that hideous monstrosity next door.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

Why is there a need for a light there? To go and eat at Webers? There's already a traffic light immediately east of the I-94 overpass. There's, of course, the one at Jackson - Maple and another west only a short way down at Wagner. As someone noted, cars coming off of I-94 merge onto Jackson there. Do we need backups onto the expressway? If there is a need to cross the street somewhere there, then build a pedestrian crossing and avoid causing additional delays along a major artery into and out of the city. This is effectively a motor lodge. People who will stay there will likely have cars and drive everywhere they go. It seems to me, the owner wants a light to help those people cross westbound Jackson and make it easy to go eastbound. That will create endless confusion. It's not been needed for the Clarion and it won't be needed for the Hampton. Put a turnaround on westbound Jackson west of Webers and the I-94 exit onto Jackson but before Wagner and that will do just fine.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

WHY A HOTEL SHOULD NOT BE BUILT DOWNTOWN Recently, Valiant Partners proposed a 15-story 150 room luxury hotel that would be built above the Library Lane underground structure designed to support such a structure. Proponents agreed that average occupancy would have to be at least 75% and the average room rate $199 per night in order for the hotel to be profitable. At the time average occupancy of Ann Arbor Hotels was about 55% and last year rose to 62%. Furthermore, high construction costs which dictated the high cost of room rental have not changed. Meanwhile, less than 10 minutes away by free shuttle ride are a number of attractive hotels including Hawthorne Suites which offers a one room suite for $117 per night and a two room suite for $30 a night more. (DISCLAIMER: I receive no financial benefits from Hawthorne Suites but have used its facilities.) The Valiant Partners proposal required a 32,000 square foot conference center (later reduced to 26,000 square feet) in order to attract enough participants to conventions who would stay at the hotel. Chuck Skelton, a local expert on hotels and hospitality centers in Southeast Michigan, provided a detailed and thorough analysis of the Valiant Partners proposal and found that it would not be feasible. City Council ultimately withdrew the RFP to which Valiant Partners had responded. Local developers and owners of area hotels admit that building a new hotel downtown would be too costly to be financially successful. Maybe that explains why recent hotels have been built by Briarwood Mall and another is planned along Jackson Road where building costs are less. The major hotel chains have shown no inter.est in building in downtown Ann Arbor.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.

I agree with Bill that the current situation with regards to downtown hotels is unacceptable. The Campus Inn is stuck in the eighties, and an embarassment. I'd like to see a modern business hotel, like and Omni or W hotel downtown, within walking distance to Central / Medical Campus and Main Street. And let's not conflate this with the convention center - I am as doubtful as anyone that that would fly here. Although UM could help by making it easier to use their facilities that can host small convention-style events, like the Alumni Center. With a bit of work and goodwill on all sides, this is a solvable problem.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

A downtown convention center, like Bill wishes, would never compete with established venues in major cities that have more entertainment and sports to attract conventioneers. Bill needs to read a copy of Chuck Skelton's feasibility analysis for the Valiant Partners hotel and conference center proposal involving building over the Library Lane underground parking structure. City Council withdrew the RFP for the project in part due to the feasibility study. Conditions have not changed since then. Do you wonder why the big national hotel chains like Hampton Inns, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hilton and Sheraton have shown no interest in building downtown? Instead we have new hotels built at Briarwood Mall and now one projected for Jackson Road.

4 Fingers

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 8:40 p.m.

How about he cleans up that dump of a hotel he currently owns next door. Then we can talk about a new one.

Sandra Samons

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

The owner also owns The Clarion, so I would hope he will be required to bring that facility up to code before starting a new project. I stayed at the Clarion during the recent power outage. It was a major disappointment. It was under-staffed. The person who worked there tried her best with a bad situation. First I was put in a room in which the heat had not even been completely installed yet (shouldn't someone have told her not to put guests there?). So I was moved to a room that had inadequate lighting even after that poor young woman changed several light bulbs. Then I discovered that the faucet in the bathroom sink did not work properly and was stuck on hot, scalding hot. Water had to be gotten from the bath tub! In sheer exhaustion from dealing with no power at home, I went back home and got a water pitcher so I could have water at the sink. It was easier to do that than to move rooms again or to even get that over-worked person to help. I just took care of it myself and collapsed into bed!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

And your neighbors really want you to be your grass mowed to 3" during the summer. Oh, and edge the driveway and sidewalk.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Nice to see you weren't blaming the employee. hope you told her so


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

I live in Lakewood subdivision. where we really need a traffic light is at the freeway entrance just east of the Clarion. Hopefully MDOT will address this. Whether this would be effective for any traffic in/out of the proposed new Hampton Inn, I do not know. But, it would probably slow the traffic down somewhat going around that curve.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Why do they need a traffic light for a right-turn-only exit? Its a one way street. Save the MDOT money to repave it!


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

Too bad that we can't get a hotel in downtown Ann Arbor so that local businesses,retail,resturants could get some business. But as long as we have a single hotel owner blocking everything and the only place to stay is downtown in his overpriced places our other businesses will suffer. There was a hotel slated for Division and now the local hotel owner has leased the property for an eyesore parking lot. He is one person stop letting him control growth

Seasoned Cit

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Hey, the sidewalk to cross Jackson would mean that larger conferences could be held using the three hotels in the area.. and make everyone who fears a downtown conference center real happy.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

This could be a breath of fresh air for this part of Ann Arbor. Webber's Inn is overpriced and over rated for a motel on a traffic island. I've stayed at Hampton Inns before, the service and atmosphere where good. As long as he stays corporate compliant this should be a hotel of some quality. Ann Arbor still needs a convention center in the down town area with over a thousand room capacity if we truly wish to drive business and innovation.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

I would much rather see another boutique hotel like Webers in this area or at the very least a higher end chain hotel. Westin? Marriott? Please not a Hampton.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Buy the land, drop several million dollars, build whatever you like

Erin Spanier

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I live near the Clarion, and attended the meeting about the hotel. What I can't really understand is why the Clarion owner doesn't just give his existing hotel a facelift. We have family and friends visit, and have never recommended that they stay at the Clarion because it looks like such a dive (I'm so sorry, but it's probably something he needs to hear). When I went inside for the meeting, though, it was actually quite nice, with a huge atrium, central swimming pool, plants everywhere. Surely a facelift would increase the Clarion occupancy rates (I wonder what those occupancy rates are) and would be far less expensive than building another hotel....?

Bob Needham

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

It sure was.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

It was a movie set so it can't be that bad?

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Erin: Interesting points here. I've never actually been inside the Clarion. I would like to ask the owner the exact question you pose - but he hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment. If I get in touch with him, I will certainly ask about possible renovations at Clarion and occupancy levels.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

"An Ann Arbor hotel owner, banking on increasing occupancy rates, is reviving plans to build a Hampton Inn & Suites on Jackson Avenue". Could you please tell us which bank the hotel owner uses? I may need to move some assets.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

@tdw: Accounts are now insured by the FDIC up to $250,000. LXIX: University Bank isn't involved in this deal. Feel free to move your account to a local community bank or credit union and out of a mega bank, and you'll do your part to help our community prosper.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

...with a little mint sitting on my pillow.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

While I like the feel of quality cotton sheets, I'll feel much more secure when those blanket reassurances are worth their weight in gold.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Unless you have over a hundred grand in the bank the FDIC has you covered

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Here is the reply from the development team regarding the traffic light: "The sidewalk across Jackson Avenue was meant to relieve the pedestrian journey across this major road with many short trips and safe harbors between the multiple lanes of traffic. A traffic light is extremely expensive to be placed in and this site was at one time approved by MDOT to be built, however we will be resubmitting to MDOT and at that time they will be evaluating the design. It will be their decision as to whether a light in this location is necessary or allowable."

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

@Lizzy Alfs: Thanks for the follow-up to my question. If the purpose is to protect pedestrians, then a Hawk light would be a better and more efficient option.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Thank you for the follow-up.

J. Zarman

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Lizzy, where has the developer asked MDOT that the traffic light be located? Is it linked to accident data for those who have been eastbound on Jackson, turning left onto the eastbound I-94 entrance ramp?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Why would they need a traffic light here if the hotel is built? "They are submitting a plan to the Michigan Department of Transportation to get a traffic light installed on Jackson Avenue near the site." I don't understand why that would be desirable or necessary.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

Yes - no traffic signal please. Don't allow left turns there - it's right after an entrance from the freeway that is dangerous to have stopping traffic and merging there. They will have to use the turn around the other side of Webber's to turn left. The only compromise in my view would be to use part of their land for a new entrance to EB I94 that allowed for a acceleration lane before merging at the Jackson bridge.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

where would they put the light? before the cenent divider, in te middle by webers. no a bunch of room for one.?


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

So Les and the gang can have one more location at which to make cars stop and sit and wait and wait and wait at a 24/7 signal when all that's needed, once again, is a signal that operates only during peak traffic. But they like cars stopping a lot. They imagine that they'll never again move, thus make for safer roads.


Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Stephen....I don't know, maybe some zoning or legal reasons ? like I said, I don't know