Developers, construction workers and other personnel are preparing to open The Hotel at the University of Maryland in a little less than a year, which will create about 500 jobs within the College Park community.
The nine-story, $140 million dollar project — often referred to as the city’s anchor by various officials — was approved in August 2014 and is slated to open its doors early in summer 2017, said Ken Ulman, chief strategy officer for economic development for this university’s College Park Foundation.
The Hotel, developed by the Southern Management Corporation, will not only add jobs by hiring concierges, management and other services, but will also house various businesses such as the Red Door Spa, Potomac Pizza and Bagel ‘n Grinds. It will also hold the Old Maryland Grille, which will be run by the same owner of Franklins in College Park, and Kapnos, a Washington restaurant serving Greek food from Chef Mike Isabella, said Mindy Bianca, a spokeswoman for The Hotel.
The SMC team is working to open these restaurants before The Hotel actually opens, said Jeff Makhlouf, the corporation’s director of hotel operations.
“We want to have the restaurants open before our team goes in and gets the hotel ready,” Makhlouf said. “But a lot of it is dependent on the permits; if we are successful in getting those restaurants in, that’s our wish and that’s our plan, and that’s what the restaurant owners want as well.”
Having the restaurants open before The Hotel would give officials a chance to work out any potential kinks so “we’re ready when the fall semester starts,” Ulman said.
“Opening during the summer months when things are a little slower … [lets us] make sure the traffic flow and pedestrian flow and bicycle flow all works really well,” Ulman said.
The sooner the better, said Eric Olson, the executive director for the College Park City-University Partnership.
As students return to this university for the fall 2017 semester, they will have a chance to work at The Hotel and some of its surrounding facilities.
“There’s a lot of people that are currently employed with the construction, and we are in the heart of the community, so we’re definitely interested in hiring students from the university [and] a lot of locals because there’s a lot of people living in the surrounding cities there,” Makhlouf said.
These jobs are also important for increasing the tax base in Prince George’s County and College Park, Ulman said. In addition, more jobs in the community will also result in complimenting “economic spinoff,” Olson said.
“I’m sure they’re going to hire a lot of community members, and that helps,” Olson said. “It provides more jobs, provides more stability, provides more income and money that people can spend locally. It helps people as they gain employment and to explore living here in the area. More living and working in the same area is very helpful here.”