- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Travelodge hotel at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE is scheduled to be razed by the end of the year and replaced with two hotels, part of a slew of recent redevelopment on New York Avenue.

William R. Conway and Samuel A. Rock, Washington-area hotel developers, plan to open a Holiday Inn Express and Fairfield Inn & Suites there in March 2008.

Mr. Conway and Mr. Rock’s company, Suton LLC in Vienna, Va., plans to close the Travelodge Oct. 31 and start construction in January.

They have owned the nearly 4 acres since 1994, when they redeveloped a Masterhost Inn into the Travelodge. Now that the building is more than 50 years old, they decided to start from scratch instead of pouring repairs into the old building.

“Because of the size of the lot, we thought, why not come back with two really popular products within our market share?” Mr. Conway said.

The 150-room Travelodge will be replaced by the 126-room, five-story Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott and 125-room, five-story Holiday Inn Express by Intercontinental.

Both are midmarket, limited-service hotels that don’t include the glitzy restaurants and bars of the fanciest hotel chains but have the basics and cost less — about $120 to $150 per night. The average hotel rate in the District is $179.

He declined to say how much they’re spending on the project, except to say it is millions of dollars.

His hotel management company, SharCon Management Co. in Germantown, operates four hotels in the Washington area.

When Suton bought the land in 1994, the area was crime-ridden and a tough sell for tourists and locals. But now, that’s changing.

“Over the last five or six years at Travelodge, in the spring, summer and fall, we have thousands of kids and families staying with us now,” he said. “That’s why we knew the market was ready for redevelopment.”

About 80,000 vehicles pass the intersection each day, according to Keith Sellars, vice president for development and retail at the Washington, DC Economic Partnership, a public-private nonprofit organization in the District.

New York Avenue is in the process of a transformation, stemming from the site of a Metro stop at New York and Florida avenues, opened in late 2004.

Near the Metro stop, XM Satellite Radio opened its office at the intersection of New York and Florida avenues, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has an office building under construction across the street.

Further east, the former Hecht Co. warehouse at Okie Street is slated to be sold. The historic art deco building could be turned into residential, retail or a combination.

Mr. Sellars said there is “huge interest” in the Hecht’s warehouse, which owner Federated Department Stores Inc. plans to sell by February.

Just across Bladensburg Road from the Travelodge, Abdo Development is working on a $1 billion proposal for a massive retail and residential project on 15 acres currently occupied by junkyards, fast-food chains and a gas station.

Demolition is expected to start in the spring, contingent on zoning approval. Construction would begin in late 2008 or early 2009, said Eric Price, vice president at the D.C. development company.

Mr. Price, former deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said Abdo Development was drawn to the site because of its proximity to the Arboretum and the busy intersection of Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue.

District development over the past five to eight years has moved from west to east, Mr. Sellars said. The economic success in Georgetown traveled west to Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, 14th Street Northwest, Seventh Street, North Capitol and finally to New York Avenue Northeast.

“It’s a natural progression,” he said.

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