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Developer plans hotels, ice rink for Marshall industrial park

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A developer plans to build two hotels and an ice rink in Marshall, and the projects would be unusual because they would be linked and in an industrial park.

“The ice rink will be a nice draw and it will support the children in that area,” said Gregory Erosenko, operations director for The Forza Group, a Carnegie-based hotel developer that plans to build a Staybridge Suites, a Holiday Inn Express and the rink between the hotels in Thorn Hill Industrial Park.

Each hotel will cost about $9 million. Forza hasn't estimated a price on the enclosed ice rink because it is deciding on the size, Erosenko said.

One reason Forza decided to link the ice rink and hotels is that hotel occupancy tends to decline in the winter, he said.

“It will stabilize not only just our hotels, but it's a nice draw for Marshall Township, as well,” he said.

Until Monday, neither hotels nor recreational facilities were permitted in the park under Marshall's zoning rules.

That changed during a Marshall supervisors meeting. Responding to an application that Forza submitted in September, four board members approved a zoning amendment to allow hotels as a permitted conditional use and recreational facilities only as accessories to hotels in the planned industrial park zoning district. Board Vice Chairman Philip Troy was absent.

Before the vote, Chairman Thomas Madigan questioned why recreational faculties wouldn't be permitted alone but would be allowed if attached to hotels.

“This looks a little too cute for me,” he said.

Supervisor Richard Scavo said he didn't have a problem with recreational facilities as accessories to hotels or as stand-alone projects in the park. Whether they would be successful shouldn't be a board concern, he said.

“It's a business decision,” he said.

There is a recreational facility in the park — Blade Runners Ice Complex — that was approved in 1994 under different zoning rules.

The Marshall Planning Department would prefer to have park facilities that generate a significant number of jobs and support the operations of businesses in the industrial park, which a stand-alone recreational facility would not, said Nicole Zimsky, the township's planning director.

Thorn Hill Industrial Park is owned by the Regional Industrial Development Corp. About 15 percent of the 925-acre park is available for development, said Donald F. Smith Jr., president of RIDC.

The 27 acres of park land on Brush Creek Road that Forza plans to buy from RIDC are better suited for hotel development than industrial projects because of the size, layout and wetlands on the property, Smith said.

“So, having the hotel with some services that would facilitate business clientele use would be a great amenity,” he said. “Certainly, ice rinks are growing in popularity as a recreational option.”

Tory N. Parrish is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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