Another new hotel has opened in downtown Kalamazoo. And that's not even factoring in what is set to happen in two years with the Hard Rock project at the Gibson/Heritage Guitar factory.

First things first: The Hilton Garden Inn Kalamazoo Downtown is the new hotel downtown. It's a block from the existing Kalamazoo Radisson. The new Hilton has 106 rooms and has a "skywalk" catwalk across Rose Street. The building's history is, it was most recently, the Rose Street Market, but Plaza Corp bought the building in 2015, and notified tenants to vacate, as they had plans to repurpose this former Masonic Temple Building. Those plans turned out to be what is now this Hilton.

Like any downtown type hotel, everything is fancy and pricier than what you'd find at a motel outside of downtown, but this brings back hotel rooms to downtown Kalamazoo. Before the Radisson, you had the Burdick Hotel on the site. On what is now the YWCA on Michigan Avenue was once the Hotel Harris, and across the street the Columbia Hotel. And back at Burdick St. and Kalamazoo Avenue, the Rickman House still stands but is no longer a hotel. (Note the north-south railroad tracks at Pitcher Street were the railroad that connected to Grand Rapids, and the current Amtrak lines, these are all walking distance of the hotels mentioned above.

The questions that sprout from seeing all this growth is, why? Why, in the sense that, what information are city official, but more importantly, real estate developers seeing that indicates a need for this kind of redevelopment? You have all sorts of resources and capital being plowed into constructing these new offices and apartment/condos; so is the expectation, that people will be forced to return to offices rather than work remotely, and further, are business people going to be traveling at the level they were, say a decade ago, to occupy these hotel rooms, rather than just meet via Zoom or Microsoft Teams?

This will play out in the next few years and decades. it will interesting to see what happens.

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