Albion Checks In for Hotel Groundbreaking

With an eye on the future, community gathers for downtown event

Albion hotel groundbreaking, May 12, 2016.
Participants in the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Courtyard Marriott hotel in downtown Albion, scheduled to open in fall 2017, included, from left: Robert Mahaney, '80, president of Marquette-based Veridea Group, which will operate the hotel; Albion Mayor Joseph Domingo; Albion City Manager Sheryl Mitchell; Emily Petz, community assistance team specialist for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; Albion College President Mauri Ditzler, Sam Shaheen, '88, of Saginaw-based Shaheen Development; and Peggy Sindt, '73, president and CEO of Albion Economic Development Corp.

May 12, 2016 | By Jake Weber

"This hotel is an important step, but only the first step in the new Albion," declared Albion City Manager Sheryl Mitchell, warmly greeting the crowd of at least 200 people at today's ceremonial groundbreaking for a Courtyard Marriott hotel on Superior Street.

Set to open in the fall of 2017, the hotel is a centerpiece of downtown revitalization efforts that will benefit both the community and the College.

Saginaw-based developer Sam Shaheen, '88, described by Albion College President Mauri Ditzler as the "driving force" behind the hotel project, told the audience that "making communities better" is a core value of Shaheen Development. Shaheen said that he and the City have been in talks about a hotel since 2010.

"This is about family," Shaheen said. "We believe in what this means to the City, the College and the citizens of Albion."

Shaheen also reminded the audience that the groundbreaking event was only ceremonial, and that actual construction won't begin until August.

"In case you don't see equipment out here tomorrow morning, don't get nervous," he said with a laugh.

Also involved in the project and the event were Albion alumni Peggy Sindt, '73, president and CEO of Albion Economic Development Corp., and Bob Mahaney, '80, whose company, Marquette-based Veridea Group, will oversee hotel operations.

"Look around you," Sindt urged. "Everyone here has had something to do with this happening, even if not directly. My inspiration comes from the people of Albion. You all work hard to make our community better. We hash things out in public and sometimes that's hard, but when it counts, you're there."

The event included the presentation of a $1 million check to the project from Emily Petz, community assistance team specialist for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., and concluded with shovels-in-the-ground photographs.

Mayor Joe Domingo, a lifelong resident of Albion, reflected that while Albion flourished in a time of heavy industry, the City is looking forward to a new era.

"We're not using our backs the way we were then; we're working smarter," he said, thanking the citizens and the College for their support. "We're going to build the City farther that it's been before."

Mahaney recalled his student days, selling Pleiad newspaper advertising to downtown vendors.

"I got to meet the most interesting people and that experience left me with a sense of ownership that I never really let go of," he said.

Mahaney encouraged the audience to embrace that sense of collective ownership as the hotel helps draw visitors.

"What makes a hotel successful is not the building, it's the people," he said, explaining that visitor experiences outside the hotel will help set the tone of their overall visit. "When people are on TripAdvisor talking about Albion, they'll talk about the businesses and the College and their experience in the community. We need you as ambassadors to make this hotel a real success."