GREEN BAY - After about three hours of debate, Green Bay's city council decided the current Clarion Hotel building is the safest fit with the long-term vision for the city's downtown.
"That's important that we don't over build or over price," said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. "We have a good plan here and I think the council tonight supported that pretty strong."
The council voted 8 to 4 for American Hospitality Management's $8 million plan. The group plans to gut the building and do a floor-by-floor renovation.
"We're excited that it's over," said Craig Bonter with American Hospitality Management. "We're looking forward to moving forward. I think it was a good healthy debate."
Some council members expressed concern of being viewed as small minded for choosing American Hospitality's plan. They said pressure was on to side with Edgewater Resource's $33.5 million proposal. It called for 200 high end hotel rooms, 28 condo units, a restaurant, marina, full-service spa and roof top viewing platform.
"It is the one that got away," said Tom De Wane, the city council's president.
Edgewater officials say they will look at other opportunities in Green Bay. They say American Hospitality's plan for the Clarion will work well.
"The level of quality that a Hampton or Courtyard, it's going to be hand in hand with that Hyatt," said Ed Vandenack with Edgewater Resources. "It's going to be perfect. It just doesn't have all the whistles and bells that we were throwing."
The whistles and bells might come from the redevelopment of the Hotel Northland. Developers for that project feared Edgewater's proposal might saturate the downtown market for high end hotel rooms. Northland developers now expect to begin construction on their project in October.
"We wanted to keep the door open, but this makes it a lot easier for us, it really does," said Mike Frantz, with Frantz-Hobart Community Investors, the group leading the development of the Northland.
While some council members are disappointed with the vote, all said no matter what, they're happy more improvements are coming to the city's downtown.
American Hospitality officials say they hope to have the Clarion renovation done by September of 2014.
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