By GABRIEL GOODWIN
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — The Sears building will be vacant no more.
The Hotel Sterling, which has a location in Monroe, has finalized a deal to purchase the building for $350,000 with plans to expand its reach into Wyandotte.
The tentative closing date is July 15 and the owners — Ken and Rebecca Wickenheiser — plan to start renovations as early as August.
The city approved the sale June 17 and approved the tax-exempt status of the new commercial endeavor June 24. The exemption will cap the taxes collected at 5 percent of the State Equalized Value for a 12-year period after the completion of the first of two phases, planned to complete changes to the building.
According to its proposal, phase one has an estimated completion sometime in July 2014 and will accommodate 21 hotel suites, a business center, and a conference room that will double as a banquet facility. A portion of the building will be prepped — complete renovation of the exterior and plumbing, but the walls and floors will be left plain — for future retail space to be leased.
There are plans for a second phase in the proposal, but will not begin until a demand deems it necessary. The second phase will add an additional 12 suites on the third floor of the building.
The building at 3061 Biddle Ave. — a one-story building north of the old Sears building that was included in the purchase — also will be converted to accommodate 21 guest suites, a conference and banquet center, exercise facility, and a business center.
Once complete, the hotel will have invested about $2.5 million into the city of Wyandotte, which makes it an asset to the city, Mayor Joseph Peterson said.
“Everybody is excited about the hotel,” Peterson said, “It’s the talk of the town.”
Ken Wickenheiser said he is excited to be moving forward with the project because of the hard work from both sides.
“We look forward to being a part of the community and building a facility everybody would be proud of,” he said.
The building — constructed in the 1940s by the Sears, Roebuck & Co. at 3063 Biddle Ave. — was the largest building between Detroit and Toledo during that time. Sears used the space until 1977 before moving to Lincoln Park.
Since, there have been a variety of business that opened and closed within the space. The majority of the building has remained vacant since 2003.
(Gabriel Goodwin can be reached at [email protected])