Is the plan for the corner of College and Howell avenues a big parking lot that also has a hotel? Or is it a hotel that also has a big parking lot?
That was one of the questions raised during the Oak Creek Plan Commission's review of new plans from Syner G Hotel Group, which has proposed a Four Points by Sheraton hotel and a 1,187-space parking lot for Mitchell International Airport travelers.
Earlier this summer, Syner G scaled back its plans by about one-third to help win Oak Creek Common Council approval and keep the city's financial incentives on the table. In particular, the parking lot was downsized from 1,531 spaces and will no longer be covered or abut a residential neighborhood.
But some Plan Commission members feel the parking lot is still the driving force behind the development. Plans also present stormwater and engineering issues, said Plan Commission member and city development engineer Brian Johnston.
Oak Creek officials said those issues will be worked out as more specific plans are reviewed by city departments, the Plan Commission and the Oak Creek Common Council.
Other Plan Commission members argued the hotel is the dominant feature of the proposal. Plans call for a four-story, 108-room Four Points by Sheraton along Howell Avenue.
The development will be a "positive for the city," Alderman Dan Bukiewicz said. Ethel Garrett, who owns property at 6414 S. Howell Ave., near the proposed hotel development, also called the proposal a positive for what is now "unsightly" land.
Another neighbor, Ken Hegerty, said he worried about stormwater runoff issues that already plague the area and whether the hotel and parking lot would make things worse.
The Plan Commission recommended the Common Council adopt the general development plan on a 7-1 vote, with commissioner Pat Correll opposed.
Plans were first approved in May 2011, but financial troubles led to delays in construction. Oak Creek earlier this year threatened to withdraw its investment of $4.5 million, which would come through a tax-incremental financing district, but developers and city officials reached an agreement that scaled back both the plans and Oak Creek's financial commitment.
Syner G eventually hopes to add two more hotels, a banquet facility, two restaurants and commercial/retail space to the area.