A 7th hotel proposed downtown; Md. developer plans extended-stay hotel at Light and Redwood; 125 rooms envisioned; A Residence Inn, by Marriott chain, suggested for site; Commercial real estate


A Bethesda real estate developer is proposing to build a 125-room extended-stay hotel at Light and Redwood streets, making it the seventh hotel project proposed for downtown.

Donald J. Urgo & Associates seeks to build a Marriott Residence Inn or a similar all-suites hotel, taking advantage of the expanded downtown convention center, increased tourism and burgeoning business travel.

"It's a project that would be unique to Baltimore, because it would cater to the extended-stay segment of the industry," said Kevin Urgo, vice president of development for Donald J. Urgo & Associates.

The plan for 101-109 E. Redwood St. would likely involve razing at least one of the buildings there, but Urgo said the company has "no definite approach" at this time.

"It would be premature to convey details, because we are still working on the program," he said. "We're coming up with a plan that will hopefully work for everybody."

Jeffrey Litman, a partner in Meisel & Cohen Properties who is selling its Redwood Street office buildings to Donald J. Urgo & Associates, said the hotel construction could begin as early as this summer.

"We're looking at a plan that would save either one or both of the buildings there now," said M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., the city's economic development agency.

The Meisel & Cohen buildings, which total 50,000 square feet and date to the 1930s, are vacant, Litman said.

Although neither Urgo nor Litman would reveal the value of the project, it likely would cost about $7 million, based on development costs.

A Residence Inn would mark the second proposed downtown project of Marriott International Inc. in as many weeks.

Last week, a Florida developer emerged with plans for an $80 million Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel and condominium project south of the Inner Harbor, on land adjacent to the Rusty Scupper restaurant. That 250-room project is contingent on winning community support and getting the land included in a city enterprise zone, entitling the hotel project to receive tax breaks and credits for creating jobs.

Other Marriott hotels

Marriott, which owns the Ritz-Carlton chain, also operates the 622-room Renaissance Harborplace Hotel and the 500-room Marriott Inner Harbor Hotel.

Mara Begley, a Marriott spokeswoman, said there are no definite plans as yet to develop a Residence Inn downtown. "We don't have a project approved as yet, but it may be an area where we are looking," she said.

Of the seven planned hotels, only the $134 million Wyndham Inner Harbor East Hotel is under construction.

The seven hotels, if they're all built as designed, would add 3,050 new hotel rooms to the city's stock, which now stands at nearly 4,500.

And, while the nearly 70 percent increase in rooms appears daunting, analysts contend the different types of rooms will prevent the hotels from cannibalizing one another.

'Won't compete'

"Residence Inn is an excellent brand, and it won't compete with the other projects being proposed or constructed," said Rob Koger, president of Molinaro-Koger Inc., a Virginia hotel brokerage and consulting company.

"The extended-stay product type is very under-represented in that area, so I predict it would do well."

The developers of a planned 267-room Embassy Suites hotel next door at 1 Light St. agreed the two hotels are different enough that they wouldn't compete.

"In my discussions with the Embassy Suites operator, they have expressed confidence in their brand," said Joe Clarke, president of J. J. Clarke Enterprises Inc., which is working to develop the 35-story, mixed-use project known as One Light Street.

"I don't think they would be concerned by a hotel like that."

But with so many hotel rooms being proposed, analysts contend that one or more of the projects may not get off the drawing board. "At some point, someone will decide their project has become uneconomic, and if they don't have to worry about shovels in the ground, they'll pull out," Koger said.

Pub Date: 2/24/99

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