King Home apartment hotel meeting leads to praise, criticism

Some 60 people gathered in the former King Home on Saturday evening to discuss a proposal to convert the vacant building into an apartment hotel under the Hawthorn Suites name, a Wyndham brand.

Attendees listen to Cameel Halim (standing at end of table) discuss his plans to convert the King Home into an apartment hotel at a community meeting Saturday. Credit: Alex Harrison

The event, moderated by City Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th Ward), allowed attendees to ask questions and provide feedback to Cameel Halim, a Kenilworth landlord and real estate developer who owns the Halim Time and Glass Museum at 1560 Oak Ave.

Halim purchased the former King Home in 2017. The building at 1555 Oak Ave. had been an assisted living facility operated by the Presbyterian Homes.

The city’s Land Use Commission gave Halim’s proposal a positive recommendation in a 3-2 vote in January. It was set for a vote by the Planning and Development Committee on March 27 before Nieuwsma moved to table the matter to address questions about the percentage of short-term guests and the facility’s operating agreement with Wyndham. 

Saturday’s meeting brought those issues and others to a public audience that filled the large room at the back of the building’s lobby.

‘Apartment hotel’ definition

Halim’s proposal seeks a special-use permit to establish an “apartment hotel” with 67 units. According to Halim, the units differ from traditional hotel rooms by having full kitchens and space to accommodate larger groups of people, such as families.

Although this classification is allowed in the building’s R6 zoning district, its variable definitions made it an area of concern at the meeting. In particular, Nieuwsma said the zoning code’s definition of apartment hotels “probably doesn’t do what we originally intended to do.”

“Our city code defines an apartment hotel as a multi-unit living facility, which has a minimum of 25% short-term guests. … It does not define a maximum,” Nieuwsma said. “It could have 100% short-term guests. 100% short-term guests, really, is a hotel.”


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