Hampton Inn proposed for High Ridge Plaza

MANCHESTER - Visitors to the Manchester area may soon have a new place to rest their heads. The Mullaney Hospitality Group, of Sayville, N.Y., has filed a preliminary permit on Monday, April 21 with the town for the construction of a Hampton Inn and Suites, on a five acre parcel on Route 7A.

This location currently has five vacant retail store fronts, as well as the Sleepy's mattress outlet and the former home of Panda Garden. Iron Point Titan, the current owner of the property, will sell the entire parcel to Mullaney Hospitality Group.

Tricia Hayes, with FOCUS Advertising and Public Relations, said that the parcel currently holds seven buildings, all of which will be taken down. In its place, a 98 room hotel and three retail spaces will be built, to go along with 288 parking spaces.

"The buildings on the front of the parcel will move closer to the street, to have more pedestrian access," she said.

The preliminary plan calls for a 98 room hotel with 31 suites, as well as 67 king and double queen rooms. Hayes said the reason for the suites is research has shown that families with children want a suite, as opposed to two separate rooms. This makes the hotel more attractive, Hayes said, to potential families traveling to the area for a tournament held at the Rec Park.

Kevin Mullaney, vice-president of business development for Mullaney Hospitality Group, said this project will bring a different group of travelers to Manchester, as well as construction jobs and 30 or so permanent positions to area.

"If you look at all of the inns and 'B and B's [bed and breakfasts]' and the overall lodging establishments in the area, as sort of a pie chart," he said.

"There's an entire chunk of the pie that's sort of left on the table and unserved. So we wouldn't be as much as taking rooms from other establishments, but bringing visitors to Manchester who currently stay in surrounding towns."

He estimated the approximate cost of the project, including the acquisition of the property, would be roughly $20 million.

Pauline Moore, economic development officer for the town of Manchester, said that this project would be a benefit to the town. In some cases, the hotel could even help others in the area, like The Equinox, to serve as an overflow location for large events. There is a price point segment missing in Manchester, Moore agreed.

"It would give us more of an opportunity to host sporting events, like hockey tournaments," she said.

However, during the Planning Commission Meeting Monday, April 21, the news of a possible Hampton Inn and Suites coming to the area was not well received. Steven Grossfeld, a planning com mission member, said the inns and hotels that are locally owned are having trouble filling up.

"For us to go ahead and approving project after project of inns and hotels that are major, it's going to put the small folks out of business," he said.

Mullaney Hospitality Group tried to purchase the Village Country Inn property, which is currently being developed by Clark French. Mullaney said this process, so far, has been totally different than their experience in the village.

The front portion of parcel is zoned in the commercial district, Hayes said, so retail stores are allowed. The back portion, that will house the hotel, is in the GR (general residential) 1 district.

When a Hampton Inn and Suites was first proposed for the Village Country Inn location, some residents were worried about the look of the building. Mullaney said that this building will not look like a traditional Hampton Inn; instead it will feature New England elements like shutters, clapboard siding and a peaked roof.

"We think this is the best possible use for the site, it's a great site," he said. "It's going to bring some well needed rooms and select service to Manchester and I do think it will be a complement to what's there today."

The project will be presented to the Development Review Board on April 30 for a preliminary hearing and will have a formal hearing on May 14. Hayes said if these hearings, as well as Act 250 filing goes well, the construction could start in Fall of 2014.


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