I am speculating here, but I'm guessing the design is NOT
being driven by Sunflower Development Group, which has done some great redevelopment in the City. I have a feeling it is more driven by the True North Hotel Group, which is probably dictating a bunch of design requirements based on a development model they use in their other hotel projects--a minimum of parking spaces, certain square footage, etc. A pre-conceived template---so to speak--that they are trying to fit into a really odd-sized parcel with no underground parking. Most chain-driven developments are pretty much the same overall.
Keep in mind that Sunflower Development Group has done, or are doing, some of our City's best redevelopments: Cosby Hotel, Ambassador Hotel on Grand, Pershing Lofts at 215 Pershing Road, 500 Walnut, Argyle Building, the Brookfield Building at 11th and Baltimore, the old Faxon School, and a couple of projects on the 1500 block of Grand. Sunflower Development Group has taken on some tough projects like the Cosby Hotel, which probably saved that building from demolition. No one else seemed willing to touch the Brookfield Building either. Both the Cosby Hotel and 1111 Grand buildings were at risk of collapse when Sunflower took them on, which probably saved both.
If there was enough financing available to do some
below-grade parking in a garage, the project would probably be much-better designed on street-level. In some respects, I wish the Port Authority involvement could make that happen because we would probably get a much-better designed project. But adding below-grade parking would make the development more expensive to build, and probably require more incentives. It would require a longer period to pay off, and a different matrix of income from the hotel (more guaranteed room nights annually, or retail rents) to finance it. Adding the garage would reduce the margin of profit, which is probably tight as it is, without added public incentives.
Even if garage parking was part of this hotel design, while it might make the street-level experience better, I doubt the overall appearance of the hotel would change that much because, again, this is a chain-driven product, and they tend to stick to a specific appearance that is part of their brand identity.
So the desire to boot the developers probably shouldn't be so much directed at Sunflower Development Group, and instead, be the desire for a trendier, better operator of the hotel that might go for a better design.
That's unlikely to happen at this point because Sunflower has already partnered with two other hotel operators in redevelopment of historic buildings, the Hotel Indigo flag, a boutique arm of the InterContinental Hotels Group, in the Brookfield Building, and The Ambassador Hotel Group's hotel at 1111 Grand. There are just not that many other hotel management operators to pursue--without approaching chains.