A team of developers has unveiled preliminary plans for the long-awaited redevelopment of Rockville's Town Center, an estimated $100 million project that city officials hope will transform the sleepy downtown into a major area attraction.
Officials with the Rosslyn-based Hadid Investment Group and with architects Clark Tribble Harris & Li presented drawings to the City Council last week of a 250-room luxury hotel and adjacent office building that the partnership has proposed building on city-owned property at North Washington Street and Middle Lane.
"The hotel is reminiscent to some of the European hotels that incorporate punched windows, awnings, some French balconies at the upper levels, dormers and pitched roofs," architect David T. Haresign said.
The facade of the proposed 12-story hotel, which represents the project's first phase, will be similar to those of the nearby First National Bank building and Montgomery County Courthouse, which are located along the abutting Courthouse Square, Haresign said.
"All of these forms take their cues from other buildings in Rockville,"he said. "There's enough texture still left so that there are cues that we can pull some of our detail from."
The hotel plan calls for a restaurant and cocktail lounge, a ballroom, enclosed swimming pool, health facilities and several meeting rooms. It would be connected by several pedestrian walkways to a nearby four-story building containing 100,000 square feet of retail and office space.
Lawrence J. White, vice president of Hadid, said that the hotel may be built and operated by a Holiday Inn franchisee. The City Council is scheduled to consider the proposed franchisor at a meeting June 24.
Under terms of a recently amended agreement between the partnership and the city, construction of the hotel must start by Sept. 1.
White said the hotel may be surrounded by as much as 2 million square feet of office space when a number of nearby construction projects are completed.
City officials expressed enthusiasm about the plans.
"They look pretty good. They follow the design standards very well," said Douglas F. Horne, Rockville's director of community development and housing assistance. "It's something we've been looking for."
Rockville officials have long considered the hotel the cornerstone of their ambitious plan to breathe new life into the dormant business district. But during the past five years the hotel has emerged as one of the more elusive parts of the plan.
Since 1982, the project has been plagued with delays, most of them resulting from the partnership's failure to show proof of adequate financing for the hotel, now expected to cost $20 million, city officials said.
Frustrated by repeated delays, the council voted last August to kill the 1982 development agreement with the partnership, New Rockville Town Center Partners, citing its failure to submit proof of financial backing.
The city later negotiated an amended agreement with the group that called for construction of the hotel to begin by this month. But two months ago, the council, amid some citizen opposition, voted to extend the ground-breaking deadline to Sept. 1. The delay was granted to permit a partnership reorganization allowing Hadid to acquire a controlling interest in the project.