With only a partial City Council on hand, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith ultimately pulled an agenda item on a proposed Marriott Springhill Suites Hotel — slated for the “Wrigleyville” area between the news Cubs’ baseball stadium and park at Riverview — from the council’s meeting during its study session Monday night.
But a discussion still took place on the merits of the proposed facilily, to be developed owned and operated by Mesa-based Sunridge Properties Inc. Sunridge also owns a dozen or more Marriott-branded hotels, according to Marriott Vice President Scott McAllister.
The most discussed issue: whether the hotel should have a bar.
“What does it look like opening a hotel in a sports and entertainment district that is dry?” said Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, observing that the hotel will be the only venue in the Wrigleyville area when its doors open; restaurants, bars and shops will eventually spring up around the anchor facility.
Kavanaugh said other council members have the same concern, although none others who were present expressed it.
Councilwoman Dina Higgins and Councilman Scott Somers were not in attendance, leading to Smith’s request that the item be moved to the next council meeting.
“I think this is too important of an issue to take up when we don’t have a full council, considering that there are disagreements on the council,” Smith said.
McAllister was still able to explain Sunridge’s logic to the council present, however.
“It does not make economic sense to put a bar in and that’s our position,” he said.
He added that one of the reasons Sunridge and Marriott chose the area was because the hotel could depend on the outside providers to take care of guest’s dining, drinking and shopping needs.
“Wrigleyville is a gamechanger,” McAllister said. “Wrigleyville is a great location with great amenities.”
McAllister said Marriott had considered the location of the current Hyatt Place, located as part of the Mesa Riverview shopping complex across Dobson Road, but he said Marriott had “concerns” that barred the project.
McAllister said of more than 300 Springhill Suites, fewer than 10 percent of them have bars. He said most that do are in locations without outside providers nearby.
Sunridge CEO Paul Welker added that changes can be made without revisions to the layout of the building if it turns out guests demand more services like a bar or dining.
Kavanaugh appeared not to be convinced that the hotel shouldn’t at least offer some sort of limited bar service.
“Mom and pop may want to have a beer or glass of wine (and) don’t want to leave the hotel or you could have business travelers, who’ve traveled all day, again, and who don’t want to leave the hotel,” he said.
Councilman Dave Richins said he prefers to leave the decision up to Sunridge and Marriott and does not want to “micromanage what someone does inside their business.”
The council seemed to universally favor the design the hotel group presented in a rendering. The design includes upgrades that do not usually accompany the Springhill Suites brand. The upgrades, suggested by the city to adhere to its vision of the Wrigleyville project, included multi-level roofs with extra steelwork and balconies, plus an “L”-shaped layout that isn’t typical of the brand.
“It’s out of the norm,” Welker said. “There’s significant cost involved in doing this over and above (a standard Springhill Suites) but we feel like Wrigleyville is a good project and we want to be able to take advantage of that with the right product ... and the extra cost is something that we’re going to absorb.”
“I appreciate the improvement in design — it has really moved along very well,” Kavanaugh said.
Added Vice Mayor Alex Finter: “I’m still really excited in
what this means for that area.”
The Marriott umbrella is comprised of 4,000 hotels worldwide, under 18 brands — other examples include Residence Inn and Courtyard.
Smith is convinced Marriott is the correct fit for the Riverview area.
“Marriott is the brand that I personally want to see in that area,” Smith said. “It is by far the superior brand for that location.”
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