New hotel, gas station planned for S. College
— 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-
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.”