Proposals wanted for potential Fairport Harbor hotel, resort

Hotel & Leisure Advisors was hired to conduct hotel feasibility studies for five hotels in Lake county and one for a proposed hotel in Fairport Harbor, along Lake Erie, in Ohio. The News-Herald has reported that The Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority is seeking proposals by developers for the proposed resort hotel in Fairport Harbor. 

By: Tracey Read
Published: March, 2015

The Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority is seeking proposals by developers for a potential resort hotel with views of the Grand River and Lake Erie in Fairport Harbor.

The six-member panel met March 18 at Holden University Center in Kirtland to discuss the project, which could include a large indoor waterpark as well as meeting space.

“We have asked the Lake County Visitors Bureau to recommend to us firms in Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas who have the experience and qualifications for this kind of project,” said Mark Rantala, the authority’s executive director. “We will also advertise. We hope to put out a request for qualifications next week. We will probably get four or five proposals.” 

Board member John Konrad questioned whether any Lake County developers would likely submit a proposal.

Rantala responded that they prefer someone with mixed-use project experience.

“We would like someone who has done a hotel or other community structure and is familiar with Northeast Ohio,” he said. “We want them to demonstrate not just the ability to develop, but that they can operate it successfully.”

On March 16, the Fairport Harbor Port Authority passed legislation to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Lake County port panel to facilitate financing for the proposed hotel. The proposed property includes about 3 acres owned by the Fairport Harbor Port Authority, plus additional land owned by the village, Rantala said.

“The project might extend above the water plant to look out at a deck,” Rantala added. “If we need more land to make it work, we can accomplish that.”

Fairport Harbor Village Council must still approve any hotel construction before the idea becomes reality.

“We’ll negotiate on behalf of the village,” the executive director said. “We have jurisdiction and control of the key elements, but the village remains in control of the acceptance.” 

Other key things to consider are that the lighthouse would remain untouched, and the water plant would be undisturbed, other than the addition of a possible deck above it, he said.

According to the Lake County port panel’s resolution, the village’s downtown storefront district has “excellent potential as a tourist destination,” attracting more than 250,000 visitors to Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park beach each year, and easy access to Routes 2 and 44.

However, officials noted the majority of tourist traffic in the village is seasonal because there is no anchor attraction with a year-round draw.

The resort also would create jobs and promote economic development elsewhere in the county, officials said. 

A two-month study is underway to determine the feasibility of a resort in Fairport Harbor and four other potential Lake County hotels, which would be paid for from the county’s bed tax collections. 

Cleveland-based Hotel and Leisure Advisors was hired to conduct the $50,000 study, which will help gauge the public’s desire for such projects and provide developers with data.

The potential for a resort hotel in Fairport Harbor was something identified in the county’s coastal development plan 10 years ago, Rantala said. To read the article on the News-Herald website, click here.