Ribbon-Cutting At Revitalized Waterfront Area Signals New Jobs, Opportunity For Community
Culinary school, hotel, restaurant open for business
Cutting the ribbon at the revitalized Port Huron waterfront are, from left, Randy Romero, DoubleTree/Hilton Worldwide; Angela Mann, Hospitality Specialists; John Kuithe, DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron; Dr. Connie Harrison, Baker College of Port Huron; Pauline Repp, City of Port Huron; James J. Turner, USDA Rural Development; John Wheeler, JB Development Company; Jeff Bohm, St. Clair County Board of Commissioners; Tom Brady, Freighters Eatery and Taproom; and Thomas Recinella, The Culinary Institute of Michigan, a division of Baker College.
Dr. Connie Harrison, Baker College of Port Huron President, said that the new Culinary Institute of Michigan is a world-class facility designed specifically for the study of the culinary arts and that it will provide optimal hands-on learning experiences for students.
About 300 invited guests attended the ribbon-cutting in front of the new Culinary Institute of Michigan along the St. Clair River recognizing three-quarters completion of the $24-million Blue Water Area development.
Students and faculty of the new Culinary Institute of Michigan provided creative and delectable appetizers for guests following the ribbon-cutting for the new Blue Water Area development.
Dan Kenny, Baker College of Port Huron Vice President of Admissions, leads a tour of the new Culinary Institute of Michigan.
Three of the four planned entities that are revitalizing Port Huron’s waterfront held a private ribbon-cutting ceremony today attended by approximately 300 business and government leaders. Participants hailed the project as a great example of a successful private-public partnership that has brought hundreds of jobs and new opportunity to the community.
The $24-million project comprises the new Baker College of Port Huron’s Culinary Institute of Michigan, the DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron, Freighters Eatery and Taproom, and the future 40,000-square-foot Blue Water Area Convention Center, which will be attached to the hotel. The convention center is scheduled to be complete by 2015.
Today was the first viewing of the 23,000-square-foot Culinary Institute of Michigan built specifically for study of the culinary arts and facilitating the open-kitchen concept of European-style training and cooking. It includes seven kitchens and opens for fall-quarter classes Monday, Sept. 30.
The 149-room DoubleTree hotel, including a ballroom and 9,800 square feet of meeting space and Freighters, with a 230-seat dining room, 21-seat bar and an outdoor patio, opened last month.
The complex is located in the Blue Water Area in Port Huron, on the shore of the St. Clair River at the base of Lake Huron.
The project was co-developed by Meritage Hospitality Group and Orion II Construction in a public/private partnership involving the USDA Rural Development, City of Port Huron, St. Clair County, private investors and Baker College of Port Huron.
The convention center, hotel, restaurant and culinary school are expected to generate a $25-million annual boost to the local economy over the first ten years of operation.
Representatives from Baker College, the DoubleTree hotel, Freighters, local, county and state government officials and others involved this phase of the development provided remarks and cut the ribbon today.
Gerry Kramer, owner/broker of Kramer Commercial Realty, served as emcee. Scheduled speakers included:
- Jeff Bohm, Chairperson, St. Clair County Board of Commissioners
- Pauline Repp, Mayor of Port Huron
- James J. Turner, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan
- Dr. Connie Harrison, President, Baker College of Port Huron
- Gary Rose, Chief Operating Officer, Meritage Hospitality Group
- Randy Romero, Director of Brand Support, DoubleTree/Hilton Worldwide
- John Wheeler, Managing Partner, JB Development Company and partner of Orion II Construction
Joining them for ribbon-cutting honors were:
- Thomas Recinella, CEC®, ACE, AAC®, Director of the Culinary Arts and Food and Beverage management programs, Baker College of Port Huron’s Culinary Institute of Michigan
- John Kuithe, General Manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron
- Angela Mann, Vice President of Operations, Hospitality Specialists
As a result of this project, a newly dedicated exit ramp from Interstate 69 was constructed, providing direct access to the property for guests traveling between the U.S. and Canada.
About the Culinary Institute of Michigan in Port Huron
The Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM) is a division of Baker College of Port Huron. The two-story, 23,000-square-foot CIM building provides state-of-the-art, world-class facilities built specifically for the study of the culinary arts. Included are seven kitchens, an Innovation Lab/classroom, additional multipurpose rooms and a 50-seat, fine-dining restaurant that will open to the public spring 2014. The CIM supports the economy by educating and training people so they can secure meaningful employment, feed their families and become productive members of the region. More information is at CulinaryInstituteMi.com
About DoubleTree by Hilton Port Huron
Formerly the Thomas Edison Inn, the DoubleTree hotel reopened in August following a 12-month, multi-million-dollar renovation. The 149-room hotel presents a contemporary design incorporated throughout the building’s classic 1920s aesthetic. It offers 9,800 square feet of meeting space with 13 flexible rooms, a 5,400-square-foot ballroom that accommodates up to 600 guests reception-style, and two boardrooms for professional meeting needs. The hotel is owned by JB Real Estate Development, LLC and managed by Illinois-based management company Hospitality Specialists, Inc. More information is at www.porthuron.doubletree.com.
About Freighters Eatery and Taproom
Freighters is a family-style restaurant that offers locally sourced and hand-crafted classic American fare. It is owned by Meritage Hospitality Group, Inc., one of the nation’s premier restaurant operators, currently operating 113 quick service and unique casual dining restaurants. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Meritage employs a workforce of approximately 3,800 people. Meritage’s public filings can be viewed at www.otcqx.com under the stock symbol MHGU or at MeritageHospitality.com.
About Orion II Construction, Inc.
Orion is a multi-service construction company, active throughout the Midwest, with resources to handle projects of any size and complexity. Founded in 2000, the company provides general contracting, construction management, design/build services, and sustainable/LEED consulting across a wide variety of business sectors. More information is at OrionBuilt.com.
About JB Real Estate Development, LLC
Partners Robert Schermer, Jr. of Meritage Hospitality Group, Inc. and John Wheeler of Orion II Construction, Inc. have completed more than 40 projects over the past 15 years. More information is at Linkedin.com/pub/j-b-contractors.