The Aberdeen Planning Commission gave its approval Wednesday to a preliminary site plan for an extended-stay hotel within a mile of the main entrance to Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The hotel will be part of Aberdeen Exchange, a commercial development bordered by Newton Road, Route 715 and Route 40.
The five-story hotel will be Home2, a new brand by Hilton, Amy DiPietro of site engineer Morris & Ritchie Associates explained to the commission.
The hotel also will be next to a Royal Farms convenience store and gas station being built at Newton Road and Route 7. The Royal Farms plan was approved by the city council last summer, despite the concerns raised by one council member over allowing gasoline tanks in the city's wellhead protection area.
Hotel representatives noted their site will include a walking trail to the new Royal Farms.
"It caters to the traveling professional, extended stay, someone whose average stay is 5 to 7 nights," DiPietro said of the hotel.
The site will have 109 parking spaces, one per room. The plan is also required to have 5 percent parking islands and one tree for every 10 parking spaces.
Primary access will be via Newton Road, which connects Route 40 to Route 7 and parallels Route 715.
An illustration given the commission showed a blocky building with small windows. The hotel will include a café area, 320-square-feet suites, a fitness center, a walking trail, laundry facilities, an indoor pool and outdoor patios.
The building will also be LEED-certified, designating it as having specific environmentally-friendly features.
Brian Norris, chief operations officer for Cherry Cove Builders, which will develop the hotel, said Hilton plans to own a stormwater management pond behind the complex.
"We felt it was better to take on the pond and be responsible for its maintenance," Norris said.
He also said, "It benefits the hotel to be able to incorporate the trail into the pond area."
In St. Mary's County, where his company is based, Norris said the average length of a stay in an extended-stay hotel is 26 days.
"We have all the same players you all are seeing, Boeing and L3 and Lockheed Martin," he said, mentioning defense contractors who have opened offices at or near APG. "[Hotel guests] will come in and be on a project for an extended period of time."
Norris said Hilton was initially concerned about the location because of some abandoned houses and other apparent blight, but he said he is confident the hotel project will succeed.
"Knowing the transformation that is happening with [Route] 715, I felt confident it would be a good location," Norris said.
DiPietro said Hilton has built 14 Home2 properties and expects to have 100 by 2012.
Commission members were near unanimous in their support for the new hotel concept.
"This looks very promising to me," commission member Nancy Kosko said. "I'm excited about it."