Monday, September 25, 2023

Affordable, adaptive housing units in Econo Lodge up for public hearing

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

A proposal to build affordable rental units at an Econo Lodge in Williamsburg is up for public hearing Wednesday afternoon.

The city’s Planning Commission will have a public hearing at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, which starts at 3:30 p.m.

The owner of the Econo Lodge is requesting the city rezone its .885-acre parcel at 216 Parkway Drive from the current Corridor Business District to Planned Development Housing District.

The change would allow the hotel to convert its 48 hotel rooms into 42 “adaptive” housing units, including 34 efficiency apartments and eight one-bedroom units. The new apartment building would be called “Parkway Landing,” according to meeting documents.

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

Rents would range from $695 to $995 per month, depending on the size and layout of the unit and number of people living there.

City planning staff have asked the commission to recommend City Council to approve the rezoning. Planning staff said the proposal is consistent with the city Comprehensive Plan.

Staff also recommend the number of occupants in an efficiency and one-bedroom apartment be limited to three people.

One other hotel in the Williamsburg area also rezoned to Planned Development Housing District. The Quarterpath Inn, owned by City Councilman Doug Pons, was rezoned to turn into the Flats of Williamsburg, which brands itself as “cost-efficient” living.

The Planned Development Housing District opens an opportunity for underperforming hotels and motels to convert and gain new life outside of traditional tourist-based lodging.

It specifically allows “adaptive housing,” defined as “primarily efficiency and one-bedroom units with adequate cooking facilities created from all or part of an existing hotel/motel, and used for the purpose of providing non-permanent, affordable and flexible-term housing for individuals and families who may not have access to traditional housing alternatives existing in Williamsburg.”

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.

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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