Downtown Rockville may soon see construction begin on a 140-unit hotel

In recent years, Rockville Town Square in the city’s downtown has added all sorts of amenities that have made it a more attractive place to live and work: an ice-skating rink, a public library and 180,000 square feet of shops, restaurants and, just last month, a grocery store.

What it has been missing, officials have said, is a hotel.

But that could soon change. In a news conference Monday, Montgomery County and Rockville officials put their support behind a hotel project that could start as early as November and generate about $14 million for the city and county by 2030.

Local officials said the hotel would be a boon for downtown Rockville, which, along with downtown Silver Spring, has been transformed into an urban center that is driving economic growth.

“This would be [a] big boost for the people of Montgomery County and a big boost for the people of the city of Rockville,” County Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) said at the news conference. “Everyone is looking forward to seeing the hotel go up.”

Choice Hotels International and Duball LLC, a developer in Reston, are working on the hotel of 140 rooms and suites. The project would also include 17,000 square feet of retail space, 223 apartments and 40 additional units set aside as affordable housing. But because the project would be located at what is now a large parking lot in the middle of downtown Rockville, the developer needs to build a 600-spot parking garage as a replacement, Duball President Marc A. Dubick said in an interview.

That cannot happen, he added, unless the county and city pledge $4.2 million to help kick-start construction. The County Council would need to approve a grant; if it is approved, Rockville would need to pay $1 million back to the county.

County officials said they are confident the plan would move forward. The project has generated support from several local officials, including County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), Andrews and Rockville Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio.

Leggett said at the news conference that approving the grant would show the county’s “continued effort to support the revitalization of the Rockville town center.”

Since Rockville Town Square opened in summer 2007, local officials have been working on the finishing touches to the urban center, which is near the Rockville Metro station. But those efforts have been slowed by the recession, and officials said the hotel would create a helpful boost.

Marcuccio, who could not attend the news conference, said in a statement that the hotel would add “another top-notch dimension to an already thriving town center.”

The announcement of the hotel project comes a year after Choice finalized a lease to move its headquarters to downtown Rockville from Silver Spring. In recent years, the company expressed interest in moving the headquarters, which has 400 workers, sparking a competition among officials across the region to woo the company. The company said it wanted to be closer to Metro.

Michael Murphy, a senior vice president for Choice, said at the news conference that the company is glad to remain in Montgomery County and that “there is no greater indicator of economic success than building hotels.”

The downtown building is not the only hotel in the works. Rockville officials have also approved a 300-unit hotel on Tower Oaks Boulevard by Interstate 270.

 
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