University of Maryland plans $115M luxury hotel and conference center

College Park, Md., and luxury hotel don't necessarily go hand in hand. Soon, however, they may.

According to The Washington Post, the University of Maryland wants to build an 11-story, $115-million luxury hotel and conference center across from its main entrance in College Park.

The proposal reportedly calls for a 300-room hotel with conference and meeting space, a full­-service restaurant and bar, shops and a swimming pool.

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“This will be a wonderful amenity for the area, and it will give visitors a good impression of the university and the community,” said Carlo Colella, the university’s vice president of administration and finance. “The existing market does not have a product of this size or quality.”

A land deal is still seeking approval, but if and when it comes through, it will be acquired by the University of Maryland College Park Foundation, which then intends to lease the property to Southern Management Corp., which would build the hotel. The foundation and Southern Management’s CEO, David Hillman, are negotiating a development agreement.

Whether not the hotel will be branded, and who would operate it once open, was not disclosed. However, preliminary design has been. The hotel-conference center would have "an architecturally distinctive glass facade and would be one of the tallest structures in that part of the Route 1 corridor inside the Capital Beltway," officials said.

“It will really make a statement,” U-Md. President Wallace D. Loh said. “Once this hotel is developed, the irony is there will be even more hotels. [Developers] will realize that there is this huge demand.”

He may have a point. Each year, many academic conferences are held in Baltimore or Washington, D.C., because there are no hotels or other facilities near campus that can accommodate the programs.

In addition, hotels near college campuses historically have performed well due in part to ever-present demand—someting we wrote about in Hotel Management recently.

Many of the 80,000 to 90,000 annual visitors to the university seek lodgings outside the county, officials say.

The College Park proposal is a scaled-back version of a $700- million development that the university considered in 2008 and 2010.