New hotel to be built on Laird Campus
approved by City Council

At their Feb. 25 meeting, members of Newark City Council approved a rezoning application and UD's plan for construction of an upscale, 126-room hotel, to be built adjacent to the Clayton Hall conference center on the Laird Campus.

Construction of the new Courtyard by Marriott at the University of Delaware will begin in April, and the project is expected to be completed next spring.

Plato Ghinos, Shaner Hotel Group vice president of development, said, "The Shaner Hotel Group is very excited to start this project. The Courtyard by Marriott hotel will be a great addition to the town, to the University and to UD's Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) department. It will offer employment opportunities and provide the Clayton Hall conference center with an additional tool to attract regional and national meetings."

UD Executive Vice President David Hollowell said, "The hotel will be an important adjunct to HRIM, will improve the functionality of Clayton Hall by providing overnight accommodations during the academic year and will offer parents and other visitors the amenity of an on-campus lodging facility.

"The University is pleased," Hollowell said, "to be involved in this major project with the Shaner Hotel Group, an outstanding, recognized leader in the hospitality industry."

With headquarters in State College, Pa., the Shaner Hotel Group, with $260 million in assets, was established in 1983. It currently operates 23 hotels with more than 4,000 rooms in 15 states, representing 12 different hotel brands--including Marriott, Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Radisson, among others. The company's focus is on adding more upscale hotels, convention properties and larger full-service hotels.

For this project, the University and Shaner Hotel Group LP (SHG) have negotiated the formation of the Blue Hen Hotel LLC. Under this limited liability corporation agreement, the University will own 75 percent and Shaner 25 percent of the hotel.

The University will lease the 4-acre site to the LLC. The cost of the project, not to exceed $11.5 million, will be fully financed through a direct loan to the LLC with a University guarantee.

According to Fred DeMicco, Aramark Chair in HRIM and department chairperson, "The newly approved Marriott on campus is a milestone in the history of our HRIM program. It will provide a hand's on 'lodging experience' to compliment our current Vita Nova laboratory. The hotel on campus will provide the learning laboratory for our students to take classes in, provide faculty with a hotel research facility for scholarly endeavors, and provide the enterprise with a first class conference facility for faculty to conduct outreach symposia and training in.

"The hotel is a significant enhancement for our UD HRIM students, the future leaders of the hotel and tourism industry," DeMicco said. "In addition, I believe the surrounding area will feel a positive economic ripple effect or multiplier effect from the project. Finally, it will be another UD resource for our program to attract bright prospective students."

During construction, the site–off Route 896 near the Pencader Residence Hall Complex–will provide easy access for crews and equipment with minimal inconvenience to neighbors

The hotel will complement the conference center with its 22 meeting rooms, totaling nearly 40,000 square feet of space, which includes a 500-seat auditorium.

In addition to its 126 rooms, the new four-story hotel will house an indoor pool, exercise room and restaurant. There will be 145 new parking spaces and enhanced landscaping.

ED OKONOWICZ