Ho­tels pro­posed for Main Street

Seven-story Lang De­vel­op­ment ho­tel would be tallest build­ing down­town

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHANNON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

An artist’s ren­der­ing shows the seven-story ho­tel Lang De­vel­op­ment Group is propos­ing for 96 E. Main St.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHANNON

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.

SUB­MIT­TED IM­AGE

An artist’s ren­der­ing shows the back of the seven-story ho­tel Lang De­vel­op­ment Group is propos­ing for 96 E. Main St.

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