By Kevin Coughlin
A 120-room hotel is coming to Morristown, opening on Market Street in July 2017.
That’s according to Choice International Hotels Inc., one of the world’s largest lodging companies, which has announced an agreement with City Sunstone Properties to build a Cambria hotel & suites property “one-half block away from [the] Morristown Green.”
“There are numerous corporations based around Morristown, and we are confident their clients and partners will be pleased once they experience the Cambria brand,” added City Sunstone Managing Partner Rod Atamian in a statement.
“The development of the Morristown Cambria is consistent with our efforts to own the most attractive commercial properties in a given region.”
But any celebrations are premature, according to town officials, who said on Monday that development plans –when and if they are submitted– must address concerns about parking and building heights.
“This is very preliminary,” said Mayor Tim Dougherty.
Project representatives stopped by town hall briefly last week to express interest, he said, and that’s where it stands. No plans were filed.
“There’s a process, and everyone has to abide by that process,” Dougherty said, referring to public hearings.
If approved, the Morristown Cambria would become the town’s first new hotel in decades.
And it would continue a transformation of Market Street–once known as “Rum Alley”– that began last year with site preparation for a triangular law office touted as the “Gateway to Morristown,” at the intersection of Market and Bank streets.
A mix of apartments and retail shops also is anticipated for the block, partially designated as a redevelopment zone.
The hotel, which would not be part of that special zone, is earmarked for 19-21 and 23 Market St., and 18 Bank Street.
On Market Street, those addresses correspond with the Cappia Café, a hair salon and a computer repair shop. An office building occupies the Bank Street address.
Morristown hedge-fund manager Daniel Khoshaba owns the properties, through KSA Properties LLC. Town records indicate he paid almost $2,251,000 to acquire them between 2010 and 2012.
Khoshaba, 56, worked his way up from a family tool-making business to Wall Street analyst jobs to leadership of KSA Capital Partners, which manages close to $300 million in assets.
“We are looking for companies to transform themselves—not a 2 percent dividend,” Khoshaba told Barron’s magazine.
‘GROWTH AND STRONG DEMOGRAPHICS’
Choice International includes the Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge chains. Cambria is a business travel and leisure brand that promises new construction, a large lobby and “over-sized rooms with flexible spaces.”
The Morristown Cambria will have a contemporary bistro, called Social Circle™, serving local specialties created by Chef Michael DeMaria. Look for liquor, wine, beer; fresh grab-and-go gourmet salads and sandwiches; and a barista bar.
Also promised: 2,500 square feet of meeting space, a spa, a large indoor swimming pool and a fitness center.
“The Cambria hotels & suites brand had a strong year in 2015, with numerous openings, ground breakings and new property signings to key markets across the country, and we’re thrilled to continue that momentum by bringing the brand to business and leisure travelers visiting Morristown,” Michael Murphy, senior vice president for Upscale Brands at Choice Hotels International, said in a statement.
City Sunstone said Morristown fits its strategy of building “high use projects on extremely attractive development sites in regions with growth and strong demographics.”
The companies cited Honeywell, Nabisco and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals among large corporations in the vicinity.
“Leisure travelers also frequent the area to enjoy the many well-known theaters, festivals and high-end retail stores,” Choice International noted in its statement.Spokespersons for Choice International and City Sunstone did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
In 2007, under a prior administration, the town rezoned the Central Business District to allow a maximum height of six stories, up from four stories.
It remains to be seen whether the developers will attempt to exceed that limit, said Phil Abramson, the town’s planning consultant.
Parking also could receive much discussion, Abramson said, “because the site clearly is too small to accommodate this use and parking.”
The nearby Ann/ Bank Street garage is almost fully subscribed, he said, and a Morris County lot is closed for now.
“That area increasingly is in higher demand,” Abramson said.
The Morristown Cambria would face the 40 Park and Metropolitan luxury condos and apartments across Market Street. Next-door neighbors would include an antique firehouse and the 127-year-old Market Street Mission.