Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Local News

Universal Drive Hotel Plans Move Ahead After PZC Approves Ammendment

Developers of a new Hilton Hotel & Resorts hotel have moved to the design phase ahead of the February Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) meeting. The new hotel is expected to be built on a vacant site adjacent to Chick-Fil-A near the Cinemark theater on Universal Drive.

Jeffrey Gordon, president of Codespoti & Associates, presented the case to amend a regulation that requires 2,000 square feet of land per guest unit. The developer is looking to build a four-story Hampton hotel with 105 units, catering to corporate clientele with a conference room, indoor pool, and exercise room. Hampton is one of Hilton’s brands.

“[The current regulation] would require have 4 ½ acres or so,” Gordon said.

He suggested that the regulation may have originally been in place to regulate what he called the “older generation” of hotels, which tended to be a maximum of two stories and occupied more surface area.

The current generation of hotels, he said, tend to be taller and occupy less acreage. Gordon requested that the regulation be modified to allow hotels of three stories or higher to build on 1,000 square feet of land per guest unit.

“The purpose is to be more current, to be able to build what we’re specifically looking for,” he said.

The PZC approved the amendment to the regulations at its Jan. 7 meeting, paving the way for the site plan to appear before a public hearing.

First Selectman Mike Freda supports the development on Universal Drive, saying that it is part of a larger plan to continue development of the area with more attractions.

“I’ve had a lot of feedback from large corporations in town that when they bring executives in from other areas, they would prefer a higher-end brand. So that precipitated us bringing in and talking to different hotel groups,” he said.

One of the partners in the project, Vinay Patel, said that the Universal Drive location is ideal for a Hampton Inn and Suites given its proximity to I-91 as well as to restaurants and retail locations in the area.

“They can find pretty much everything in one spot instead of going far away,” Patel said.

The group is currently building a Hampton hotel in Orange that will feature 121 rooms. Patel said that they were looking for a location in the area to serve this market.

“In all honesty, since the Meriden Hampton [hotel] is gone, they really want to get back into this market here,” Gordon said at the January PZC meeting.

With the designs underway, Patel hopes to go before the PZC again with a site plan in February or March, with the nine month construction project beginning in the spring.

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