New ho­tel, gas sta­tion planned for S. Col­lege

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By JOSH SHAN­NON

jshan­non@ches­pub.com

— The Wilm­ing­ton firm SSN Ho­tels is seek­ing ap­proval to de­mol­ish the Red Roof Inn on South Col­lege Av­enue and re­place it with a new ho­tel and a con­ve­nience store with gas pumps.

The sketch plan, filed ear­lier this month, calls for a four-story, 98-room Hil­ton at the back of the prop­erty and a 5,100-square-foot store with 12 gas pumps fronting South Col­lege Av­enue.

The pro­posed ho­tel is smaller than SSN’s ex­ist­ing three-story, 142-room Red Roof Inn, which for many years was a Howard John­son’s.

The ad­ja­cent Friendly’s restau­rant is not owned by SSN and will not be im­pacted by the project.

Mike Fort­ner, de­vel­op­ment su­per­vi­sor for the city of Ne­wark, said the prop­erty is cor­rectly zoned for the project, but SSN will have to ap­ply for a ma­jor sub­di­vi­sion and spe­cial-use per­mit for the gas pumps.

Con­sid­er­a­tion by the plan­ning com­mis­sion won’t come un­til fall, at the ear­li­est, Plan­ning Direc­tor Mau­reen Feeney Roser said. Af­ter that, city coun­cil would need to sign off be­fore construction could be­gin.

The 3.1-acre site at 1119 S. Col­lege Ave. is ad­ja­cent to where SSN is cur­rently build­ing a six-story 101-

NE­WARK, DEL.

room Can­dle­wood Suites ex­tended-stay ho­tel. Construction be­gan last year and the ho­tel was slated to open next month, though a no­tice on its website states that the ear­li­est for which reser­va­tions can be made is Dec. 1.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of SSN did not re­turn sev­eral phone calls seek­ing com­ment, but last June at the ground­break­ing for the Can­dle­wood Suites, CEO Peter Bhai said Ne­wark is a good mar­ket for ho­tels. Count­ing the Can­dle­wood and a Mar­riott planned for Ogle­town Road, there are nine ho­tels in Ne­wark, in­clud­ing six on South Col­lege Av­enue.

“Cer­tainly, there’s a mar­ket here,” Bhai said. “We’re sur­rounded by W.L. Gore, UD and JP Mor­gan. So there are many de­mand gen­er­a­tors around us.”

The plans do not iden­tify a ten­ant for the con­ve­nience store.

How­ever, the prop­erty man­age­ment firm DSM Com­mer­cial, which is mar­ket­ing a neigh­bor­ing va­cant prop­erty, has been telling prospec­tive ten­ants that a Wawa is “com­ing soon” to the Red Roof Inn site.

A Wawa spokesper­son did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Coun­cil­man Todd Ruckle, whose district en­com­passes the ho­tel prop­erty, said he had not re­viewed the plans but be­lieves the pro­posal to build a new ho­tel is “ex­cit­ing news.”

“We’ve had ma­jor prob­lems down there,” he said, re­fer­ring to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity by some ho­tel guests. “It would be good to up­grade down there.”

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