Another hotel coming to city

The Baltimore Sun

Yet another new hotel is coming to downtown Baltimore.

A Manhattan-based developer is planning a Four Points by Sheraton hotel on the former site of a culinary college on South Calvert Street, Ronak Patel, a principal with developer All Star Management Inc., said yesterday.

Four Points, a midpriced sister brand to Sheraton created in 1995, features high-speed Internet access, contemporary design in its guest rooms and an on-site pool, gym and meeting space, according to its parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.

Patel said he expects to buy the four-building site at 25 S. Calvert St. this month from the Baltimore International College, which moved its culinary arts school from there to a nearby building on Commerce Street.

All Star plans to demolish the buildings and construct a 15-story, 166-room hotel that would have valet parking.

The hotel would open by summer 2009, Patel said. Patel, who operates hotels in Ohio and Oklahoma, said he has been granted a franchise by Starwood to operate a Four Points.

The hotel, now in 141 locations around the world, would be the fourth Four Points in Maryland, according to Starwood, joining hotels near Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, in Hagerstown and in New Carrollton.

Patel, who had been looking for hotel development projects in Manhattan, said he was attracted to Baltimore's market by the relatively lower price of real estate and by average occupancy rates in the mid-70 percent range that are only slightly lower than a market such as Manhattan.

The new 750-room city-owned Hilton convention hotel, slated to open next fall, should help the smaller hotels in the area, he said.

"That supply will improve attendance to the convention center and that will bring more business to us," Patel said.

Downtown Baltimore has been emerging as a hub of boutique and small hotels, especially in the area along Charles, Calvert and Redwood streets.

A record 1,192 hotel rooms are under construction in the center city, Inner Harbor and Harbor East, west side and Mount Vernon, according to the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

Another 1,891 rooms are planned at 15 hotel projects, including the Four Points, the Downtown Partnership says.

"This seems to be one of the largest influxes of hotel projects," said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership.

"The Hilton convention center hotel is enabling the city to attract more conventions and many of the conventions have a spinoff need for hotel rooms in other properties. There are some hotels anticipating that spinoff effect," Fowler said.

Fowler said industry experts have said they believe downtown Baltimore lacks sufficient hotel inventory and has room for growth.

A Hotel Monaco, a brand typically developed in historically significant buildings, is slated to open by 2009 in the historic B&O; Building at Charles and Baltimore streets, part of a $60 million project by Philadelphia-based ARCWheeler.

Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group will operate a 208-room boutique hotel on the top seven floors.

An Element hotel, a new extended-stay brand also created by Starwood Hotels, is planned for Harbor Point, a $450 million project adjacent to Fells Point.

Starwood is just beginning to roll out the Element concept, an offshoot of its Westin Hotels & Resorts, that it has described as a more upscale approach to the extended-stay category.

Four other hotels are in the planning stages, ranging from 100 rooms to 188 rooms, at 15-19 S. Charles, 26-30 S. Calvert, 301 N. Charles and 110 St. Paul Place.

Hotels under construction include Hotel Indigo at 207 E. Redwood, Staybridge Suites at 101 N. Charles and Marriott Spring Hill Suites at 16 S. Calvert.

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