CANTON: The McKinley Grand Hotel downtown is in trouble, but the leaders of the planned Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village project think they might be able to save it.

Village CEO Mike Crawford on Monday said the 165-room hotel is a proud downtown asset and has good bones, but it’s also “in severe disrepair,” and its occupancy statistics are “pretty dismal.”

To solve the problem, he wants the city’s help.

Members of Canton City Council on Monday heard a presentation from Crawford about his plans for the hotel and his request for a 15-year, 75% property tax abatement on improvements, as well as an update about what’s going on at the Village.

 

McKinley Grand

 

Village developers are hoping to buy the McKinley Grand — a decision they estimate would cost them $3.8 million upfront and then another $21.2 million in renovations.

If developers buy the hotel, work would start this year. The property would close for four to six months while rooms are gutted, the restaurant and kitchen are redone, and all the electrical and mechanical systems are replaced.

When it reopens, probably in the late spring of 2020, the goal would be to charge an average daily rate of $120 and grow the occupancy rate from 26% to 70%.

Paperwork about the abatement indicates the move would keep 35 jobs.

Developers have agreed to make the property part of a hotel chain, though the chain's name wasn’t shared Monday.

To make all that possible, Crawford said, the Village needs a tax break.

Canton City Council is contemplating a 15-year abatement on 75% of the increased property taxes that would result from the improvements to the hotel.

Canton City Schools still would receive the property tax it already gets from the current property, which is valued at $4.5 million, plus its portion of the 25% of the increased property taxes.

During the council meeting, Canton City Schools Board of Education Vice President Eric Resnick expressed his opposition to the proposal, saying it shouldn’t be the district’s responsibility to give up future potential revenue to make the hotel project happen.

“The financial health of the Canton City School District is in the interest of the city of Canton,” he said.

Councilman Bill Smuckler, D-at large, shot back at Resnick at the end of the meeting. The council supports the schools, too, he said, but they “totally disagree” on how to go about it.

“We’re gonna make decisions for jobs,” Smuckler said.

A vote on the abatement is scheduled for Aug. 12.

Plans for the downtown hotel are separate from plans for a hotel for the Village, which is located on the campus of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Developers have called the Village a Disneyland for football.

Developers, working under a different leadership team, broke ground on a four-star, Hilton-collection hotel at the Village more than two years ago, but it never was built. Crawford said Monday that it’s not going to be, at least not in that spot.

That land will be cleared and a hotel will be built adjacent to a planned water park.

Village update

As part of his presentation, Crawford also gave an update on the overall status of the Village project and acknowledged the skepticism he knows people have about it coming to fruition.

Instead of trying to do everything all at once, the next phase of work will include the research and development Center for Excellence building, a field house with convention space, a hotel, retail and dining, the water park and infrastructure for the project.

Ground could break this year, though construction isn’t expected to start “in earnest” until early next year. Buildings will open as they finish, and everything should be done by the second quarter of 2022.

The price tag for the next part of the project is $300 million, Crawford said.