Downtown White Plains will see construction cranes and crews this winter as an international franchisor brings a new hotel brand to the county in a $37 million joint venture with a veteran hotel operator.
Choice Hotels International Inc., based in Silver Spring, Md., will hold a ground breaking ceremony Dec. 5 on a 130-room, 88,000-square-foot Cambria Suites hotel at 250 Main St. next to the City Center parking garage. The hotel is scheduled to open in summer 2013.
Part of the Metropolitan Plaza mixed-use redevelopment at 250-270 Main St., the modular construction project also will include 35,000 square feet of retail space on two floors below the six-story hotel and an approximately 120-space underground parking garage. The eight-story building will rise on the site of a former A&P supermarket demolished last year.
The groundbreaking in White Plains will kick off construction of three Cambria Suites hotels in the metropolitan market; the other two will be built in Manhattan. A spokesperson for Choice Hotels said the three projects will create more than 1,000 construction jobs and represent a $140 million investment.
Michael Murphy, senior vice president of Cambria Suites, said the upscale business travel brand is making its entry in the New York market after opening 19 hotels in secondary and tertiary markets across the country. The move into primary markets will include hotel construction in Washington, D.C., and a Cambria Suites opening at Miami International Airport in 2013.
“I’ve been in this business 30 years and this will be the first time I’ve ever gone through an experience like this,” Murphy said of his company’s triple groundbreaking in a 24-hour span. “Our company wants to get into New York City. Our company wants to get into White Plains, for obvious reasons.”
The White Plains market “has a perfect blend for business (customers) on weekdays and leisure on the weekend side,” said Murphy. Business travel from Sunday night through Thursday night will be the hotel’s main focus, he said.
“In the travel industry, the upscale segment of the hotel industry is the highest-demand segment today,” said Murphy. “We see that growth continuing for the next 20 years.”
The White Plains hotel will employ 30 full-time workers, said William Meyer, chairman of Meyer Jabara Hotels, the joint venture partner that will operate the hotel. Meyer Jabara, with offices in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Danbury, Conn., also owns and operates a Holiday Inn in Mount Kisco and the Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa in Connecticut.
Meyer, a Harrison native, said the White Plains project is his company’s first venture with Choice Hotels International. Meyer Jabara, though, had worked on several deals with the president and CEO of Choice Hotels, Stephen P. Joyce, during his prior executive stint at Marriott International Inc.
“There were a lot of people who took a look at this deal,” said Meyer, whose company is not a partner with Choice Hotels in its two Manhattan projects. “Choice was the most aggressive of all of the franchisors. We thought the marriage was a good one.”
All Cambria Suites units include both bedrooms and living room-workspace areas. The downtown hotel, which also will have an indoor pool and 1,600 square feet of meeting space, will accommodate both overnight and extended-stay guests, said Meyer. “It’s an upscale experience,” he said.
For hotel franchisors, “The allure of White Plains is that it happens to be an excellent hotel market both in terms of occupancy and average rates” for room rentals, said Meyer. He said there is “no question” the hotel market in the county seat has rebounded from the recession, posting increases in both occupancy and average rental rates.
Retail tenants also have been drawn to the Main Street block where the Metropolitan Plaza developer has renovated several storefronts Planet Fitness will open a 20,000-square-foot fitness center in second-floor space in the hotel building, Meyer said. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. will open a 2,800-square-foot restaurant on the ground floor.