Libertyville sees hope for business travel in new hotel proposal
A 122-room extended-stay hotel geared to business travelers is being proposed in northwest Libertyville.
Holladay Properties, a commercial real estate development and property management firm with an office in Clarendon Hills, has begun the village approval process to build a 4-story WoodSpring Suites at Peterson Road just east of Route 45.
The 3.7-acre site at 1980 Kelley Court, a prominent corner at Peterson and Northwind Boulevard, has remained undeveloped since the property was subdivided for office, manufacturing and distribution uses many years ago.
"The proposed plan is to construct a well-designed, high quality, easily accessible, sustainable, visually appealing and well-landscaped hotel," according to a summary provided to the village.
WoodSpring is one of 14 brands under the umbrella of Choice Hotels International Inc. According to the company website, there are 410 WoodSpring hotels open or under development in the United States. Suburban properties include locations in Elgin, Carol Stream, Addison and Gurnee.
"This brand is becoming a more well-known extended-stay model in the area," said Heather Rowe, Libertyville's economic development director.
"You've got a lot of big employers in the area," Rowe added. "I think they're (WoodSpring) really interested in those business travelers."
Hotels are a permitted use in the zoning district. A Hampton Inn & Suites has operated for several years on the east side of Northwind Boulevard and would be a neighbor to WoodSpring.
The proposal comes at a time when hotel usage is slowly recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Business travel and special events, like graduations from the Great Lakes Naval Station, have resumed, Rowe added.
"The good news is we're starting to see room occupancies pick up," she said.
Hotel occupancy in Lake County is down from two years ago but is trending upward, according to Maureen Riedy, president of Visit Lake County, a tourism and marketing organization.
The occupancy rate in June was 59% compared to nearly 77% for the same period two years ago.
"We're definitely seeing a gradual increase in hotel occupancies, particularly in limited-serve hotels or extended-stay hotels," Riedy said.
Northern Lake County has more of those types of offerings and is doing better than the southern part of the county, she added.
Besides WoodSpring in Gurnee, TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Waukegan, Home2 Suites by Hilton in Lincolnshire and The Forester, Hyatt's first boutique-inspired hotel, in Lake Forest have opened recently, Riedy said.
In Libertyville, WoodSpring is seeking recommended approvals for the building facade, landscaping, and lighting. Changes suggested by the village's appearance review commission will be considered Aug. 16.