News

W. Broad Property Placed Under Contract to Tysons Hotel Group

Watercolor-RenderingNew Owners: Hilton Garden Inn Plan Back

It wasn’t long ago that the Falls Church City Council voted over the vociferous objections of St. James School parents and local neighbors to approve the construction of a Hilton Garden Inn hotel at 706 W. Broad St.

Watercolor-Rendering

A watercolor rendering of the proposed Hilton Garden Inn project at 706 W. Broad St. in Falls Church.
New Owners: Hilton Garden Inn Plan Back

It wasn’t long ago that the Falls Church City Council voted over the vociferous objections of St. James School parents and local neighbors to approve the construction of a Hilton Garden Inn hotel at 706 W. Broad St.

As with almost all other significant development projects, the plan, though approved, fell victim to the recession and ground to a halt.

Until now, that is. The same plan has been revived and will be formally submitted to the Falls Church City Hall this week. The only modifications are the inclusion of a small office building facing onto Park Avenue and a reduction on dollar amount of the voluntary proffers made earlier.

A contract for the sale of the land, contingent on the approval of “special exception” changes in line with the proposed modifications, has been signed. Developer Bob Young has passed the property over to the Tysons Corner-based Gosnell Palmer Holdings LLC, veteran locally-focused hotel developers.

As approved earlier, the hotel will have 110 rooms and be six stories high. The new developers are looking for some improvements to the design of its interior, including provision for more meeting space.

The new office building feature amounts to a 6,600 square foot, three story all commercial structure that will add significantly to what should be a net plus to the City’s tax revenue base of $500,000 per year.

If the approvals go through smoothly, construction could begin by next March, and the project completed a year later, in time to contribute to the revenues available for the City’s Fiscal Year 2012 balance sheet.

map800-706westbroadmap2Young, in an interview with the News-Press Tuesday, stressed that he will collaborate with the new prospective owners to begin meeting with neighborhood and school groups right away, even possibly as early as this week.

Last time around, a lot of the opposition to the plan came from St. James School parents who were alarmed about the prospects of a hotel catering to “strangers” located so close to the school could represent a latent threat to the safety of students.

However, the Council did not consider the fears sufficient to warrant a denial of the submission. Currently, St. James students are known to meander after school down W. Broad St. to “hang out” at a Starbucks located next door to a much older and unsecured motel apparently without the concern of parents, and there was no solid evidence provided at the earlier hearings that the proximity of a hotel to a school had any endangering impact on students.

“This will be an ultimate test for the new City Council,” Young told the News-Presss this Tuesday. “This provides it with the kind of all-commercial project that they’ve said they want. There is no kind of development, of any kind, which yields a higher tax return per acre than a hotel.”

Young said he is confident that if the needed approvals are forthcoming, the financing will be there to begin construction right away.

The project will be discussed at this Friday’s meeting of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) and the formal application will also be filed this week.

Barry R. Gosnell, one of the prospective new owners of the project, is a third generation residential and commercial developer, property manager, general contractor and construction manager. He is a managing member and key principal of several hotel development and ownership LLCs under the Marriott and Hilton flags, with several current projects under development around the U.S. and in Canada.

Randolph R. (“Rich”) Palmer brings 25 years of experience in the hotel industry to the Falls Church project. The Gosnell-Palmer Holdings group is under contract as the principle owner and eventual Class A member of the entity formed for the Falls Church project. It currently also maintains the same standing with the Inns of Historic Fredericksburg LLC, the sole owner of the Inns of Harrisonburg LLC and the majority owner of the Inns of Strasburg LLC.

A CPA with an MBA in finance from George Washington University, in addition to his business responsibilities he serves as chair of the Little Falls Presbyterian Church Foundation and six years as an elder in charge of administration and finance at the Little Falls Presbyterian Church in Arlington.

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