Phase I of Flats East Bank project nearly complete as three restaurants are set to open before July

The first phase of the Flats East Bank is nearly complete with the opening of the Aloft hotel and the Ernst & Young office building this week.

Three restaurants – Ken Stewart's, Lago and Willeyville – are set to open within the complex in the next two weeks.

"It's been quite a journey," said George Kimson, a representative of Wolstein Group, the developer of the project.

The two properties, which are within walking distance to the RTA, are connected with a walkway. Kimson expects the office building to be 80-percent full by the end of the year.

"One of the biggest things that we're going to market ourselves as is a destination," said Eric Cybulski, manager of the Aloft hotel.

While Cybulski said he believes most of his guests will be business travelers, he welcomes Cleveland-area residents to take advantage of hotel's trendy bar and spacious lobby that includes a pool table and snack bar.

"You can use this as a jumping off point to go to a number of different entertainment venues, restaurants and so on."

More development is in the works. Construction on phase II of the project is set to begin later this year or early next. That will include an apartment building, retail space and more restaurants.

Kimson said one of those restaurants will be "Toby Keith's I Love this Bar & Grill," which is owned by the country musician himself.

"It [the bar] brings up and coming country music to the area," Kimson added.

"We love it," said Tim Woods of Detroit who was one of the first guests to stay at the Aloft Thursday night with a friend following the hotel's ribbon cutting. "It's awesome. Great location."

Woods said he enjoys seeing the positive changes in the Flats and is eager to make a return visit as development continues.

"I'll definitely come back," added Woods.

Phase II is expected to be completed by the year 2015. Kimson said phase III will then begin, and that includes another office building.

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