Country Inn & Suites adding rooms, conference center
Eagan is expecting an influx of visitors in the coming years, and those people are going to need somewhere to stay.
The Eagan City Council approved a Planned Development Amendment to allow a Country Inn & Suites expansion. The hotel is planning to add 55 hotel rooms along with a conference room with a capacity of 90 people.
With the Vikings Lakes development, the Minnesota Vikings training camp coming in 2018, and Twin Cities Premium Outlets activity, Eagan is experiencing an influx of visitors, according to Brett Cory, president and CEO of the Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“With the 55 rooms being proposed, based on our research and just what the market dictates right now, we should have no problem,” Cory said.
Cory said the conference center Country Inn & Suites is proposing would put the hotel in the top five in Eagan in terms of conference space.
The hotel is also planning on adding a restaurant, but the plans were not part of the approval last week. Developers said they’ve heard from several who are interested since they submitted plans.
It was the second time the City Council approved plans for more hotel rooms in Eagan. Developers of the Home2Suites near the outlet mall are planning to build another hotel next to it.
City Council members were supportive of the expansion and the conference center, but they had concerns with the size of the parking lot.
Although there is not a maximum amount of parking per city code, plans called for more than 100 parking spots in excess of the current requirements.
After much discussion, developers were comfortable with cutting back 65 parking spots within their design until the restaurant is official.
With all that extra parking, City Council members were concerned it would give the hotel a competitive advantage over other hotels that offer stay and fly packages.
The hotel offers park-and-fly packages where guests could leave their vehicle during a trip, which is not something the city actively promotes, Mayor Mike Maguire said.
The Advisory Planning Commission added a condition during a public hearing last month that only current guests of the hotel may park on site, but city attorney Mike Dougherty said that would be a challenge to enforce, and the City Council dropped the idea.
There’s about 13 other hotels in Eagan that offer stay-and-fly packages, and by not allowing them to store cars for visitors, it would put the hotel at a disadvantage, developers said.
The project’s architect Tom Wasmoen said the hotel would lose about 19 stalls when the restaurant is built and the current plan is just the developers being proactive.
“We don’t feel like we’ve overplayed parking for this site at all,” Wasmoen said.
City Planner Mike Ridley said stay-and-fly didn’t exist when the current hotel parking ordinances for the city were written.
Maguire said the city doesn’t advocate for them, but as long as they don’t cause an issue, there are no plans to review it.
Maguire said they don’t want them to build parking for a theoretical restaurant because things could change.
“The restaurant time line is unknown at this time, but that’s not part of the approval at this point,” Ridley said. “They would need to come back for approval.”
The hotel has about three to four guests every night who drive semi-trucks that take up about four spots and they used part of their parking lot to store snow during the winter.
He said they added additional green space and landscaping to make the parking lot more attractive than it is now.
Another question was the tax base the city might be losing on the property if it’s turned into a parking lot instead of something more substantial.
Wasmoen also said the soil conditions under the current parking lot is poor, and it would be a challenge to build much else besides a parking lot on the site.
“From our standpoint we’re really providing the highest and best use here,” Wasmoen said.