Clarification: The original version of this story said Apple REIT CEO Glade Knight serves on an advisory committee at First Freedom Center, as is listed on the nonprofit’s website. According to his company, Knight no longer serves on the committee and stepped down from his position on First Freedom’s board of trustees in January.
Richmond’s planning commission on Monday unanimously approved a proposed Shockoe Slip hotel, which now faces only one more hurdle: City Council.
The six-story, 210-room Marriott project will go before the council for final approval July 9.
The developer, hotel owner Apple REIT, has been working on the project since spring 2008, Apple REIT President Justin Knight said during a presentation at the meeting.
During the planning commission meeting, Land Use Administration staff members raised concerns about parking and traffic but recommended approval for the project pending a final okay from the city’s traffic engineer and provided that the hotel offers valet parking through 2 a.m.
Knight said that it was unnecessary to provide valet parking through 2 a.m. because traffic and parking are not an issue that late, but he said the company would agree to the stipulation.
The commission members agreed to adjust the valet time to midnight and approved the measure pending approval of the traffic engineer.
Two members of the business association Shockoe Partnership said at the meeting that they support the project but said the parking – 67 spaces – was insufficient and that the planned eight-foot sidewalks would strip the block of its trees.
Others, including developer Tom Papa, who owns two buildings bordering the development, supported the measure and called on the city to work with developers to build structured parking in the area.
“I’m happy to see someone making an investment in the area,” Papa said during the meeting, “and finally doing something with the existing parking lot, which is an eyesore.”
BizSense reported in May that Apple was negotiating the final details surrounding the closure and relocation of Virginia Street, which bisects the planned hotel’s site.
A source close to the negotiations, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the project, said that if the special-use permit is approved the hotel should be open by spring 2014.
The land is owned by the First Freedom Center, a locally based nonprofit that claims to promote religious freedom and Jeffersonian ideals. The organization will be given office and exhibit space at the corner of 14th and Cary streets as part of the deal with Apple REIT.
Apple REIT founder and CEO Glade Knight served on the board of trustees for the First Freedom Center until January, according to Apple spokesperson Kelly Clarke.
The 134,000-square-foot hotel would be U-shaped and would be split between two Marriot products. Seventy-five rooms would be extended-stay Residence Inn rooms, and 135 would be Courtyard by Marriot rooms.
Justin Knight said after the meeting that he was excited that the hotel had cleared one of its last major hurdles.
“It’s a wonderful project and it will be a great addition to the City of Richmod,” he said.