Hotel opening joins upward progress trend

Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — Mayor Joseph Kuspa said business developments in the city this year brought no surprise announcements, but this month’s opening of a new hotel keeps him “happily optimistic” that things are “heading in the right direction.”

“We’re pleased that the ones we anticipated followed through,” Kuspa said. Later this month will see the preliminary opening of Hampton Inn, next to I-75 between North Line and Allen roads. Kuspa said a January grand opening is being planned for the hotel, a four-storey structure with 110 guest rooms on four acres.

The extensive, $8 million project was approved in 2008, but Kuspa said the lengthy process was to be expected during uncertain economic times.

“These things take time to develop,” Kuspa said.

What has been visible is a gradual economic turnaround during which numerous business opportunities opened up in Southgate. Some projects were stalled for good reasons, such as a $3.5 million expansion of MJR Theatre to include a 40-foot-by-80-foot screen. Cinema owners expected to break ground this year, but Kuspa said that will now take place in the spring.

“That’s related to the fact that business was doing so well they decided to wait rather than close any theaters,” Kuspa said.

Mostly, though, business continued as expected. Last year saw the demolition of the former Montgomery Ward store in the Southgate Shopping Center, a site busy with a $1 million investment and renewed interest to include Downriver Gymnastics taking over the former Farmer Jack spot.

Continuing to attract business, 2013 road projects were expected to match last year’s $1 million worth of investment, and job growth continued along with recreational improvements in the city.

Kuspa said 2014 should bring more of the same, and that “a few things” are in development that he hopes to announce during his State of the City address in January.

“There are some real positive things heading not only to Southgate but throughout Downriver,” Kuspa said. “We’ll start seeing that effect in property values as we keep inching forward, heading in the right direction.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at