Hilton hotel being built in Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Apr. 17--A hotel is under construction at the Overpeck Centre in Ridgefield Park, 20 years after it was first proposed for the site.

Sun Development, an Indianapolis-based company that manages 27 hotels in nine states, is building a 140-room Hilton Garden Inn at the Overpeck location. Sun Development expects to finish the building by fall. The hotel is one of a dozen the company has under construction east of the Mississippi.

Hartz Mountain Industries Inc., the Secaucus-based commercial real estate company that manages Overpeck, hopes the hotel will help make the office complex more attractive to potential tenants.

"This will give us an edge," said Ernie Christoph, senior vice president of sales and leasing with Hartz Mountain. "When you have an office development, especially one you somewhat control, you try to put in as many amenities as you can. The [best amenity] is having a hotel on site."

The construction of the hotel comes at a key time for Hartz Mountain. This week, Overpeck's main competition, the Glenpointe Centre in Teaneck, announced the latest phase in its $6 million renovation project. Glenpointe, anchored by the 350-room Marriot at Glenpointe Hotel and Conference Center, is angling to become the premiere office complex in the region, said David Simson, president of GVA Williams, the brokerage firm for the complex.

"Nowhere in North Jersey can tenants find a complex with a four-star hotel, conference center, health spa with pool, restaurants and PNC Bank all under one roof," Simson said.

Other hotels have followed Glenpointe's example. Last year, the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel and Conference Center in East Rutherford finished an $18 million renovation of its 427-room building. The hotel is viewed as a prime asset to the Metropolitan Center next door, the 15-story Class A office tower managed separately by ING Clarion that is still looking for a tenant for its top floors.

Hartz Mountain is no stranger to building hotels to anchor its large projects. Harmon Meadows, the company's sprawling shopping and office complex in Secaucus, features seven hotels.

"As soon as we started announcing that the hotel was a reality, I've seen a lot of play from [potential tenants] coming out of Fort Lee who would normally have gone up to Glenpointe," Christoph said. "They're starting to look at us a lot more now."

Construction began at the Overpeck Centre, which overlooks Overpeck County Park, in 1986. The complex now features 1.1 million square feet of office space. Bank of America and Samsung are primary tenants, and the complex has a 12-screen Loews movie theater. The offices are 75 percent occupied, Christoph said.

Overpeck Centre is a joint venture between Hartz Mountain and Ridgefield Park, which owns the 60-acre site. Hartz Mountain has a 99-year lease with the village to develop the land. The lease calls for Hartz Mountain to pay $1,600 an acre annually for undeveloped land and a minimum of $6,300 for developed property. The rental fee does not include property taxes.

"We've always wanted to put a hotel at the site, but it was just a matter of getting the right operator who wanted to come there," Christoph said. Deals with other potential developers had consistently fallen through until Sun Development came onboard, attracted by what it saw as a prime location for a hotel, he said.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Record, Hackensack, N.J. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.