Family, friends and other visitors to the city will soon have two more hotel options on Route 1 as plans for both a Best Western and a TownePlace Suites Marriott begin to develop.
There are already nine hotels in the city, but contractors and officials say the area needs more to attract out-of-towners and boost commerce.
“From the state’s perspective, we welcome hotels, as they generate a lot of tax revenue for the city,” College Park Economic Coordinator Michael Stiefvater said. “There hasn’t been one that has been built in a while except for the Holiday Inn.”
The Best Western, a project contracted by Missouri-based Vasu, LLC, is being built on the former site of the College Park Motel. Plans for this 50-room hotel gained approval in July 2007. However, construction was delayed because of the process of obtaining permits at the state, county and local levels, according to owner Vipul Patel, but those issues have been resolved, and the building should be completed by early 2013.
“Everybody knows this county is not easy in finding permitting,” said Patel.
Plans may also have been held up because business owners experienced economic hardships in the recession, said District 2 City Councilman Bob Catlin, which he said made it difficult for even such a “modest project” to get financed.
“All of the other projects that were approved way back then, that were approved when the economy crashed … if they weren’t student housing, they went away,” Catlin said. “This is probably the only nonstudent housing project that survived the economy crash.”
Catlin added that while Patel originally planned to launch his hotel independently, he was eventually able to get funding by joining the Best Western franchise. Patel said the membership will provide his hotel with “recognition and all the stuff that drives the hotel industry.”
His plans for the inn include providing Wi-Fi, an exercise room, breakfast and a pool, as well as offering rooms significantly larger than those at other hotels on Route 1, according to Patel.
“I feel like it’s not really going to benefit the students, but if anything, it’s going to benefit the parents, because they’re the ones that will probably be staying in the hotels for parents weekend,” said senior behavioral and community health major Abbey Smith.
Stiefvater said he believes the Best Western will be a helpful resource in encouraging people to extend their trips to the university, only two blocks away from Patel’s site.
“Having a newer product out there, hopefully that will bring more people to stay inside College Park,” he said.
Another hotel, the Marriott’s TownePlace Suites, will be built by Baywood Hotels. The business gained approval from the Prince George’s County District Council in 2010 and is applying for building permits, though the company has not released a start date for construction.
Several students said they think more hotel options will help the city.
“All of the places get booked really fast, especially the one on campus … it’s just not good,” said sophomore communication major Vanessa Milanesi, who is from New Jersey. “My parents, they didn’t book anything for parents weekend and they’re not going to because they know everything’s going to be booked.”
However, the latest additions to Route 1 don’t make up for the city falling behind in development from other areas, Catlin said.
“Certainly there are changes on Route 1, though they are nothing compared to the changes in D.C. or Montgomery County,” Catlin said. “We haven’t had very much happen in the last 30 years.”