By Kevin Coughlin
Developers of a Cambria hotel are asking Morristown’s planning board for variances from town height- and parking restrictions.
Sunstone Hotels LLC wants to build a seven-story hotel in a six-story zone at Market and Bank streets, near a redevelopment area that seeks to transform a former “Rum Alley” into a “Gateway to Morristown.”
Because of sloping topography, the hotel would stand six stories above Market Street, but seven stories on the Bank Street side, according to plans submitted this week to the town.
Based on the hotel’s proposed size — 92,540 square feet with “117 modern, stylish guest rooms”– the town requires 214 off-site parking spaces. The builder is asking to provide only 65 spaces.
Negotiations are ongoing with the Morristown Parking Authority to secure those spaces at the Dalton garage on Cattano Avenue, according to the documents.
The requested parking reduction is based on Sunstone’s calculations of an average 80 percent occupancy (92 rooms) and a maximum daily need for 34 parking spaces.
Valet parking, with pickup and drop-off on the Bank Street side, would be provided by Advanced Parking Concepts, the same Verona company managing an overflow parking lot for the Mayo Performing Arts Center.
Additional variances are required for lot coverage and setbacks. The site is zoned for a maximum coverage of 80 percent; Sunstone seeks 100 percent lot coverage. And buildings are required to stand back 10 feet from their front boundaries. The hotel seeks permission to extend to its property line on the sidewalk, as many downtown establishments do.
Only one off-street loading area is proposed, instead of the mandatory five, and at a smaller size than the zoning dictates.
These preliminary plans must be reviewed by the town’s planning and engineering consultants. Depending on the outcome of those reviews, the application could be heard by the planning board on May 26, 2016, said town Zoning Officer James Campbell.
Town Planner Phil Abramson said he has not had a chance to look over the plans yet.
Cambria hotels are owned by Choice International Hotels Inc., one of the world’s largest lodging companies, which also owns the Comfort Inn and Econo Lodge chains.
An indoor swimming pool, gym, bistro, barista bar and 2,500-square feet of meeting space are envisioned for the Morristown Cambria, which will cater to leisure travelers and visitors to the area’s pharma companies, according to statements from Sunstone and Choice International.
The hotel is proposed for 19-21 and 23 Market St., and 18 Bank St., properties owned by Morristown-based hedge fund manager Daniel Khoshaba, through KSA Properties LLC.
On Market Street, those addresses have been home to the Cappia Café, a hair salon and a computer repair shop. An office building occupies the Bank Street address.
A few doors down, a triangular law office is being erected for the law firm Fox Rothschild at the intersection of Market and Bank streets, on parcels that have been designated as a redevelopment zone.