Aggieville hotel plan advances

By Burk Krohe

The Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board on Monday unanimously recommended a preliminary development plan that would bring a hotel just north of Aggieville.

Steve Zilkie, senior planner, said the hotel would go on a half-acre piece of land at the northeast corner of Bluemont Avenue and N. Manhattan Avenue. It will require rezoning the area from R-3 multiple family residential with multi-family redevelopment overlay and university overlay to a commercial planned unit development.

Andrew Suber, of the Excel Group LLC, the owner and developer, said the brand of the hotel is yet to be determined. The proposed building would be four stories with a portion of a fifth floor on the southern side. In addition to 72 rooms, the hotel will contain several meeting areas, an outdoor patio on the top floor and a small retail space on the first floor. 

Zilkie said there will be 30 covered parking stalls on the first floor off of N. Manhattan Avenue. He said there will also be a garage below the building with 49 stalls. The underground garage will be accessible via a ramp off the alley on the north side of the building. 

Excel’s consultant submitted a drainage report, which noted some undersizing of the existing storm water sewer in the area. However, the consultant felt it would not present a significant problem. The city’s public work’s department reviewed the report and confirmed the findings.

Board members were generally favorable toward the project. Mike Hill said it was a good project and could be a building that would stand for a long time, and Gary Stith said it would contribute significantly to the community. However, they did voice concerns over streetscaping, the building’s design and storm water runoff.

Stith said the hotel would set the standard for future development in the corridor and worried that the streetscape would be “blah” because of the nearly 100 percent coverage of the lot. Stith suggested that Excel consider adding trees to the streetscape.

Suber responded, saying the hotel will be set back several feet from the sidewalks allowing some flexibility on the streetscape. He said there are no plans for trees because they would take up too much room, but shrubbery and other features such as knee-level walls could be added to make the building appealing.

Suber also responded to Linda Morse’s concerns about the design standards of the buildings’ facade and the condition of the alley behind the building. He said the facade will be stone in order to show continuity with the Kansas State campus as residents travel north. Excel will also repave the portion of the alley behind the building.

Mike Kratochvil asked Suber whether the underground parking garage was in danger of flooding. Suber said stormwater will be routed away from the ramp and there will be grates leading to the sewer system at the bottom of the ramp as a contingency.

Ultimately, the board voted to recommend the project with the added condition that the developer submit a landscaping plan, which considers the addition of smaller trees, with the final development plan.

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