Thursday, February 2, 2023

Econo Lodge owner aims to fill need for affordable rentals with redevelopment project

Add another Williamsburg hotel to the list: Econo Lodge off Second Street is proposing converting its 48 hotel rooms into 42 “adaptive” housing units. (WYDaily/Courtesy City of Williamsburg)
Add another Williamsburg hotel to the list: Econo Lodge off Second Street is proposing converting its 48 hotel rooms into 42 “adaptive” housing units. (WYDaily/Courtesy City of Williamsburg)

As the lodging industry in Williamsburg has slowed down, hotels and motels have sought new lives, becoming distilleries, William & Mary student housing, and affordable housing.

Add another Williamsburg hotel to the list: Econo Lodge off Second Street is proposing converting its 48 hotel rooms into 42 “adaptive” housing units.

Documents filed with the City of Williamsburg Planning Department show the hotel, at 216 Parkway Drive, is requesting the city rezone the parcel of land from Corridor Business District to Planned Development Housing District.

The Williamsburg Planning Commission will have a public hearing on the rezoning proposal at 3:30 p.m. May 15 in the Stryker Center.

The rezoning would allow the .885-acre parcel to be turned into housing called “Parkway Landing,” which would include 34 efficiency and eight one-bedroom apartments.

The complex would also include a leasing office, lounge, laundry room, exercise room and pool.

Documents show the hotel is owned and operated by Ajit “AJ” Patel and his family.  Online property records show Bajrang LLC has held the Parkway Drive property since November 2011.

The Planned Development Housing District was created to encourage a limited number of hotel and motel rooms to convert into “adaptive housing,” an attorney representing the hotel owner wrote in a March 20 letter.

“Additionally, the PDH district provided an opportunity for older, underperforming hotels to be improved and repurposed in ways not otherwise supported by traditional overnight visitation,” the letter reads.

The Flats of Williamsburg, owned by City Councilman Doug Pons, was also rezoned to Planned Development Housing. The hotel was previously the Quarterpath Inn.

In the last few decades, Williamsburg hotels and motels have seen a decline in visitation. The 2007 hotel motel association report shows the annual occupancy percentage for Williamsburg-area hotels and motels went from 58.9 percent in 1987 to 47.7 percent in 2007.

Rents at Parkway Landing will be between $696 and $995 per month if the redevelopment is approved, documents show.

Lease terms will also be flexible, with the minimum lease being 90 days.

The letter from the hotel owner’s attorney says there is a demand for affordable rental units within the City of Williamsburg, and this property could potentially provide housing for the workforce at both Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary.

The property’s current zoning allows residential areas, but only multifamily residential or townhouse units combined with non-residential uses. It allows for up to 14 dwelling units per acre, documents say.

The land adjacent and to the north of the Econo Lodge is zoned High Density Multifamily Residential.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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