Fourth New Hotel Planned for Downtown Norfolk, Va.

Nov. 6--Norfolk

A developer plans to build a Hampton Inn & Suites in the 100 block of West Brambleton Ave., bringing to four the number of new hotel projects announced for the downtown area.

The 15-story hotel would be built between York Street and Brambleton next to the Granby Tower luxury condominium site. The site is a block away from a nine-story, 160-room Residence Inn by Marriott for which ground was broken Monday on Brambleton between Duke and Boush streets.

The Hampton Inn would be downtown's first "mid scale" hotel, said Raj Randeria, a managing partner with Aniesh Corp., the Norfolk hotel management company developing the project. The central business district is home mostly to full-service, upscale hotels, he said, bearing such flags as Marriott and Sheraton.

With about 140 rooms, the hotel would target businesspeople looking for moderate-priced rooms, as does the Courtyard by Marriott downtown. However, Hampton Inns, a Hilton Hotels Corp. brand, are "one step down" from Courtyards, Randeria said.

Expected to cost between $16 million and $18 million, the project should break ground by March, assuming it obtains needed city approvals, Randeria said. The company is just starting to apply for its permits. Construction likely would take 18 months, he said.

A former bank and law office on the site was demolished last week, and clean up was under way Monday.

City officials are pleased that another hotel might be built downtown. "Any time people are willing to make a major investment in the city, it's a positive sign," said Mayor Paul Fraim.

Fraim said he isn't worried about the downtown having too many hotels. He noted that all downtown hotel rooms are booked for the Virginia Emergency Medical Services Symposium that will be held Wednesday through Sunday. "We badly need quality rooms," he said.

Randeria said he does not believe his company will ask for any city incentives. The firm also owns the Tazewell Hotel & Suites downtown, the Doubletree Hotel Norfolk Airport and the Hawthorn Hotel & Suites in Portsmouth.

Fitting the Hampton Inn on the roughly 15,000-square-foot lot is a challenge, Randeria said. The hotel is to be built atop 30 to 35 parking spaces. A satellite valet parking lot is planned on the former Zedd Auctioneers Ltd. store site a block away on the corner of Granby Street and Olney Road. Aniesh bought the Zedd property last year. He said he likely will raze the building to make way for parking.

The hotel would have three or four street-level retail spaces facing Brambleton Avenue, Randeria said. He said he hopes one will be a restaurant.

As an excavator loaded debris into trucks at the site Monday, the groundbreaking ceremony was held for the $32 million Residence Inn a block away. Construction on the downtown's first extended-stay hotel should start in about two weeks, and it should open by the end of 2008, said Malay Thakkar, a managing partner with developer LTD Management Co. of Chesapeake.

Thakkar said he did not see any overlap between the Residence Inn and Hampton Inn projects. The Residence Inn is aimed at guests of Old Dominion University and Sentara Norfolk General Hospital needing lodging for weeks or months.

The city sold LTD the land for the Residence Inn for $400,000, about $1 million less than a recent appraisal done on the parcel.

Two other hotel projects are planned for the downtown area:

-- A $47 million, 16-story luxury hotel, likely a Hilton, is planned to be built adjacent to a new $49 million city convention center at the corner of Granby and Main streets.

-- Fort Norfolk Plaza, across Brambleton from the medical complex, will include a 125-room Hyatt Summerfield Suites extended-stay hotel.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Va. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.