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F.C. Council Primed to OK Hilton Hotel on W. Broad St.

Impressed by some major improvements in architectural design, the Falls Church City Council demonstrated a strong informal consensus for approving a new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, which local developer Robert Young wants to build in the 700 block of W. Broad St.

Meanwhile, the results of an exhaustive consultants’ study commissioned by City Hall, reported at a public meeting Tuesday, showed that there is a strong market to support both the proposed Hilton and a proposed Marriott Residence Inn that is a component of Atlantic Realty’s City Center project.

Rachel Lubin of Economic Research Associates of Washington D.C. made a compelling case for the City’s ability to support and gain maximum fiscal benefits from the two hotels Tuesday, even based on conservative assumptions.

In terms of “bang for the buck,” or fiscal yield per acre, hotels were identified in earlier studies commissioned by the City’s Economic Development Authority has the single “highest and best use” of commercial land.

That was why City Councilman David Snyder spoke as strongly as he did in favor of moving forward with the Hilton project at Monday’s Council work session. Over just one acre, the project is projected to yield a net $360,000 in tax revenues to the City per year, with very few requirements for City services in return. “This is one of the best projects we’ve seen come before us,” Snyder said.

Tentative plans were for the Council to revisit the plan at another work session, and then to vote on a preliminary “first reading” approval within a month.

If approved, the Hilton, which would be at 706 W. Broad St. adjacent the Burger King, will be built to include 110 rooms on six floors (a total of 65 feet), a swimming pool, 2,000 to 2,500 square feet of public meeting space and a small restaurant accessible to hotel residents only.

It is classified by the hotel industry as “upscale,” as it includes a restaurant, fitness center, business center, pool and room service.

The same goes for the proposed Marriot Residence Inn in the City Center area. That would have 175 rooms, and banquet or meeting space with sufficient capacity for local organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Education Foundation, to host annual banquets and special events.

Responding to some concerns that an extended-stay hotel such as a Marriott Residence Inn would not be sufficiently “upscale,” Lubin strongly disagreed.

She noted that there is a pressing demand for a product of this type nationally. The demand is for as high as 40% of all hotel rooms be of an “extended stay” type, with small in-room kitchenettes, a breakfast bar, bar/lounge area, restaurant, business center and fitness center. But currently only 5.2% of hotel rooms currently are of that type.

A Marriott Residence Inn “would be a very upscale product with amenities that would be something Falls Church would be very proud of,” Lubin said.

The study indicated the demand clearly exists for the two new hotels proposed in Falls Church, which has nothing but older, budget hotels presently. Even though dense new development around the East Falls Church Metro station is a virtual certainty, the study did not take that likelihood into account, confirming the conservative nature of the study.

“All in all, it was very positive,” Robert Young said of the City Council’s reaction, Monday to the architectural improvements he made to the Hilton Garden Inn plan. “There is still more work to do, based on some suggestions that Council members made, some of which will work, and some that may not.”
Young recently completed construction of the Read Building at 402 W. Broad St. and is moving ahead with a four-story office building in the 800 block of W. Broad St. that may house the City’s School Administrative offices and the U.S. Post Office (relocated from the 300 block of W. Broad).

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