The community benefits process has started for Hotel Water Square, which will bring a new high-rise with 600 hotel rooms along Detroit's riverfront. Developers shared details of the plan at the first meeting this week. 

The project is coming in around $400 million, and developers (Atwater & Second Associates with Sterling Group) will be seeking City of Detroit tax abatements. These trigger the community benefits process. More detail on the finances will be discussed in future meetings.

Developers plan to start construction in the middle of this year, with the hotel opening in 2027.

A neighborhood advisory council will be determined in the next few weeks to work with developers on potential community benefits. Some potential impacts in the surrounding area could be sustainability, construction, employment, and flow of traffic.

New renderings were presented for the project, giving a clearer vision of what the hotel will look like at street level, and how the Second Avenue expansion will fit into it. 

Looking at the hotel from the RiverCity of Detroit/Sterling Group

The new hotel will have outdoor seating for restaurants at the ground level, floor-to-ceiling meeting rooms overlooking the Detroit River, and murals adorning the exterior. Representatives discussed the amenities like the restaurants and market/coffee shop, which will help residents of nearby towers feel like it's more of a neighborhood with places where they can walk to meet up - Riverfront Towers especially is a bit of an island along the Riverfront.

A plaza will sit between the hotel and residential towerCity of Detroit/Sterling Group

A new pocket park will be between Hotel Water Square and the Residences of Water Square. It will have fresh landscaping, seating, and ample lighting.

The expanded Second AvenueCity of Detroit/Sterling Group

Second Avenue will run between the hotel and Huntington Place. It will have space for cars, pedestrians, and bikes, and allow greater mobility between downtown and the hotel/convention center area. A walkway over the street will connect the two buildings, making it easier for visitors. Second Avenue currently does not have access to the River; it's basically a service area for Huntington Place. Representatives spoke about how difficult it is currently to access the river from Fort Shelby or downtown from Riverfront Towers without getting in a car. This will help residents of both those buildings.

Visit Detroit also spoke to the importance of the project. A few of the main points from their presentation showed how this will impact the convention center and the economy of the city.

  • Huntington Place can host 20-25 citywide events per year, but only host 10-12.
  • Many organizations pass on Detroit because we don't have a connected hotel.
  • From a five-year study, they determined Detroit has missed out on 1 million visitors and $524 million.
  • Because we don't have a connected hotel, we're losing business to cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, and Columbus.

The CBO meetings are open to the public and take place on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. at Huntington Place over the next several weeks, with a virtual option. You can find meeting details and presentations at the Hotel Water Square site. 

Last week, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority presented plans on exterior amenities related to the hotel to the Planning Commission, as reported by the Detroit News. In addition to the skybridge, a tunnel would also connect the hotel to the convention center. A 1,000-spot parking deck is also under consideration, and additional pathways and greenery are planned. Plans for the Second Avenue expansion have been submitted to MDOT, and they'll be meeting again this week for further discussion.