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Proposed 10-story development on Newark's Main St. gets chilly reception

Courtesy of Danneman Firm
A rendering of the proposed retail, apartment, parking and hotel project provided by the developer

Newark residents voiced concerns Sunday about another hotel proposed for Main Street. 

Under the proposal, the building on Main Street that houses Playa Bowls, Tasty Wok and, until recently, Margarita's Pizza would grow to four stories tall, with retail space on the bottom and 12 apartments, likely rented to students, on top. The back part of the building would sprout a five-story parking garage topped with a 108-room “national brand” hotel— totalling 10 stories tall. 

At a community meeting Sunday hosted by the developer, Danneman Properties, locals raised concerns about the impact the proposed project could have on traffic and whether its scale would be in character for Newark. 

“The size of the building is too much for Newark,” said city resident of fifty years Frances Hart. “It’s too big.”

Newark resident Isabel Lopez also objects to the project’s style. “They need to put something beautiful, really,” she said. “This hotel? It’s a box.”

Danneman Properties’ George Danneman says the proposed building is meant to echo older Newark architecture. “The brick and everything looks very similar, the windows, to the Deer Park, the Opera House, some of the more classic buildings that have been around Newark for a while.”

A SpringHill Suites hotel owned by Danneman opened in downtown Newark last year. Aseven-story Hyatt hotel by Lang Development Group was approved in March for Main Street, just blocks away from the site where this latest hotel project is proposed. 

But Danneman says there’s still demand for hotel rooms in the area. “There are national market study companies that analyze the market and tell you whether or not there's a need for additional rooms in the marketplace,” he said. “And there’s definitely a need. We’ve got a market study that shows us that it makes financial sense to do this.”

“We wouldn't be doing it otherwise,” Danneman added. “I’m representing my family, and I wouldn’t be making a bad business decision for my family.” The Danneman family has owned one of the parcels they are seeking to redevelop since the 1950s, when it housed Dannemann’s Fabrics. 

Danneman’s team emphasized Sunday that the project would add to Newark’s tight parking supply. The City-managed parking garage the company is proposing would hold 292 spaces, plus surface parking. The company says although hotel guests would use some of the spaces, most guests’ cars would be gone during the day, when city parking demand is highest. 

Steve Kessler, a lawyer with Danneman Firm, said it would also further the goals of Newark’s Comprehensive Development Plan by adding jobs with an annual payroll of around $750,000 and providing a boost to the local economy. Danneman representatives say hotel guests could spend upward of $1.7 million at local businesses per year— but some who attended Sunday's meeting worried the proposed project could “cannibalize” other hotel business in the area. 

Danneman representatives expect the project would pay $100,000 in additional property taxes, more than $130,000 in Newark’s lodging tax and more than $350,000 in the state lodging tax. They say it would also purchase $150,000 in utilities from the City of Newark. 

Kessler says Danneman Properties hopes to begin construction next June, but updated plans have yet to be submitted to the City’s planning department. The project is not yet scheduled to go before City Council for a vote.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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