Hotels proposed for Main Street
Seven-story Lang Development hotel would be tallest building downtown
Two developers are proposing hotels for Newark’s Main Street.
Lang Development Group and Danneman & Danneman LLC both filed their plans earlier this month and are beginning the city’s months-long development review process.
The Lang Development proposal calls for a seven-story structure containing 147 hotel rooms, a restaurant, 19,500 square feet of office space and a parking garage at 96 E Main St., across from the Academy Street intersection.
Lang would combine two properties, demolishing the former Abbott’s Shoe Repair building and incorporating the facade of the historic Green Mansion, which is protected under the city’s historic
preservation law, into the new building.
The first three levels of the building would include the restaurant, hotel lobby, and commercial office space in the front and parking in the back. Meanwhile, the top four floors would contain the hotel rooms.
Part of the fourth floor would also include a pool, a patio and meeting rooms.
Chris Locke, general counsel for Lang Development, said he and Jeff Lang have considered building a hotel downtown for more than a decade.
“We think it’s time downtown has its own hotel,” Locke said. “This project will be the flagship to make downtown competitive.”
The hotel will be operated as a Hyatt Place, a hotel brand that Locke believes will appeal to visitors to the University of Delaware as well as corporate clients. The visitors it will bring into town will be a boon for downtown restaurants and retail shops, Locke said.
The $30 million project also includes office space because there’s a demand for it downtown, he said.
“Of all the projects we’ve ever done, this is the one we’re most proud of,” he said. “It will benefit the city long after Jeff and I have left.”
At seven stories and 82 feet high, the Lang hotel would be the tallest building on Main Street.
“As my grandfather said, they’re not making real estate any more, so you have to build up,” Locke said. “It’s the normal evolution of real estate.”
Lang bought the Green Mansion property earlier this year and expects to go to settlement on the Abbott’s property in a few weeks. The Abbott’s property is currently owned by a Wilmington company, which had proposed replacing it with 15 apartments and retail space. That proposal has since been withdrawn.
Locke hopes to begin construction on the hotel project next summer and open the hotel by September 2020, but first, city council must approve a special-use permit for a hotel and a site plan that includes a variance for building height. He hopes to go before the planning commission in January and seek council approval in March.
He said he isn’t worried about the similar project proposed by Danneman.
“Competition is good. That’s why there’s the Yankees and Red Sox,” he said. “If that’s what Mr. Danneman wants to do, I wish him the best of luck.”
Danneman proposes 88-room hotel, 12 apartments
Danneman’s plan, which is still in the early stages, calls for demolishing the building at 132 E. Main St., which houses Tasty Wok, Playa Bowls, Margherita’s Pizza and four apartments.
The building would be replaced by a new building containing retail space on the first floor and a total of 12 apartments on the second, third and fourth floors in the front portion. The rear part of the building would be taller, with at least two levels of parking and four floors of hotel rooms above the parking. The 88-room hotel would also include a rooftop bar and restaurant.
An interior hallway would provide access from Main Street to the hotel lobby and parking garage.
Two adjacent buildings owned by Danneman, currently occupied by Chipotle and Panera Bread, would remain intact, but the parking garage would extend behind them.
“It would bring an awful lot of business to Main Street,” George Danneman said. “Just walk out the door, and you have all of Main Street, which has become a dining destination.”
Downtown businesses suffer from a “summer slump” when University of Delaware students leave town, he added.
“Having a hotel on Main Street will help remediate that,” he said.
Danneman said he’s still working out the final details of the proposal and does not have a timetable for the project.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” he said.
Hotels would impact public parking lots
Both hotel projects would have an impact on city-run parking lots.
The city’s Lot 3 and Lot 4 are made up of several privately owned parcels, which are leased to the city for use as public parking.
Lang Development is proposing to end the city’s lease on its portion of Lot 3 and use the land for the hotel project. That would split the city’s lot into two pieces and remove 52 spaces, approximately a quarter of the lot.
Lang’s project includes 223 parking spaces, which meets the parking requirement, but those spaces would be privately managed and reserved for hotel guests and employees of the office space tenants.
Locke argued that the property tax and lodging tax from his project would more than make up for the city’s lost parking revenue.
“The benefits far outweigh the loss of 52 spaces,” he said.
Beyond the revenue, though, the loss of the spaces likely would exacerbate what many people already believe is a shortage of parking downtown. The city plans to add 40 spaces to Lot 1 behind the Main Street Galleria next summer, but that would only partially mitigate the loss.
The short-term effect on parking would be even greater, as construction of the hotel would coincide with the reconstruction of Main Street, which is expected to block as many as 97 on-street parking spaces.
It could rekindle discussion of a public-private partnership for a parking garage in Lot 1. Five companies, including Lang, submitted proposals two years ago, but city council never moved forward.
Meanwhile, Danneman hopes to partner with the city to use his project to add to the supply of downtown parking.
He said he has been in conversation with city officials to turn over management of his proposed parking garage to the city.
His plan calls for the garage portion of the project to extend over a piece of the existing parking lot that is owned by the city, which of course would be contingent on an agreement with the city.
As currently drawn, the two-level parking garage contains 116 spaces, approximately enough to meet the parking requirement for the
project. In order to significantly increase public parking, additional levels would need to be added to the garage.
Danneman said he is open to adding parking levels if that’s what the city wants.
“There have been good conversations,” he said. “We all want the same thing.”
In an emailed statement, city spokeswoman Kelly Bachman confirmed that Danneman approached the city about extending his parking garage over city property.
“We are open to having that discussion, but without having a plan to look at, we were not in a position to provide constructive feedback,” Bachman said, noting that the sketch plan Danneman filed this month will be reviewed by the Subdivision Advisory Committee, an internal committee comprised of applicable staff from city departments that reviews plans and provides comments to applicants.
She said it’s too soon to comment on the impact Lang’s project would have on Lot 3.
“That said, downtown parking continues to be an important issue for businesses, residents and visitors, which is why the work of the Parking Requirements Subcommittee was so valuable,” Bachman said. “We have implemented and are actively pursuing some of the recommendations that group presented to council this summer and will seek direction from council regarding other opportunities to enhance downtown parking as well.”
An artist’s rendering shows the seven-story hotel Lang Development Group is proposing for 96 E. Main St.
Danneman and Danneman LLC is proposing to replace this building – which houses Tasty Wok, Playa Bowls, Margherita’s Pizza and four apartments – with a hotel, retail space and 12 apartments.
An artist’s rendering shows the back of the seven-story hotel Lang Development Group is proposing for 96 E. Main St.