Two Washington, D.C. developers planning boutique hotel in Hagerstown

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With new multi-million sporting stadiums, eateries and expanded educational and entertainment facilities planned or happening in city, what’s next for Hagerstown ?

A 25-room hotel.

Hagerstown City Council members on Tuesday voiced support for a plan to turn a former school-turned-child care center at 535 Summit Ave. across from Hagerstown City Park into a “boutique hotel.”

The building was home to the former Learning Center and also known as the “old Surrey school.”

Now vacant, the two-story brick building used to be a public school before it was a day care center. Meritus Medical Center closed the center in 2016 and put the building up for sale in 2018 for $825,000.

What is a boutique hotel?

Co-developers Alexsis McKinney and Valerie Sanderlin, independent developers in Washington, D.C., are planning to develop a boutique hotel that will include a restaurant with outdoor dining, according to city documents. Additions are also planned for the building and parking for guests will be on the Summit Avenue side of the building.

A boutique hotel is typically a small hotel with upscale accommodations. They are often in fashionable locations.

McKinnney and Sanderlin said in a phone interview Tuesday before the council meeting that they purchased the building in July.

They have both worked on a number of community development and housing projects in Washington.

McKinney said the boutique hotel will focus on well-being and wellness of its guests and offer a spa that includes steam rooms, sauna and other offerings. The hotel will be a “multi-sensory experience” that compliments nature, especially given its proximity to Hagerstown City Park, she said.

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McKinney said she expects the hotel to have about 25 rooms. She said it’s a little early to say what the rooms will look like because she and Sanderlin are working “from the outside in” in developing the hotel. She said there are areas around the building that she wants to focus on with landscaping and other improvements. Noting that it’s a “beautiful building” dating to 1907, McKinney said she and Sanderlin want to enhance its appearance.

When asked what the restaurant will be like, McKinney said it will be “a little bit healthy, little bit fun and a little bit of art.”

When will it open?

McKinney said she and Sanderlin have been consulting with neighbors and other groups including local businesses on how the hotel will be designed.

“We’re going to bring some of the D.C. flavor up,” Sanderlin said.

They anticipate the hotel being finished by the first quarter of 2024.

The 2.67 acre site is currently zoned residential moderate density. McKinney and Sanderlin are asking council members to support a “conversion district overlay” to allow the hotel.

The purpose of a conversion district overlay is to encourage new uses of existing non-residential, multi-story and large one-story buildings in town. Doing so helps increase the city’s assessable tax base, expand city business and employment and provide alternative development for under-utilized buildings in town, according to the city.

‘Absolute best use’ of site

City council members and Mayor Emily Keller voiced support for the plan in an afternoon work session.

“I think this is the absolute best use of that property,” said Councilman Bob Bruchey.

Councilman Kristin Aleshire said he doesn’t have any problems with the plan, but said he thinks it’s unusual that parking for guests will be on the Summit Avenue side. Parking for the building has typically been on the Virginia Avenue side.

Aleshire noted that Virginia and Summit avenues are different streets in the way they absorb traffic, and said he is surprised the city has not heard from any Summit Avenue residents about the amount of traffic that street will get when the hotel is completed.

City Planner Megan Flick told Aleshire one reason she thinks guest parking was switched to the Summit Avenue side is because of an outdoor terrace that is planned for the Virginia Avenue side of the building.

The next step for the project is a public hearing on the plan on April 26 that will be held by the council.

The Hagerstown Planning Commission held a public hearing on the plan on Feb. 23 and commission members said they were encouraged by the proposal, according to city documents.

The project is being added to the latest developments in the city’s growth trend in recent years. In a recent State of the City address, Keller noted economic development happening in town that ranges from residential building to large-scale businesses that have created hundreds of jobs.

Plans are also underway for a multi-million dollar stadium at Baltimore Street and Summit Avenue that is slated to be the home for a new baseball team, as well as a place to host other events. Construction of the 5,000-seat facility could begin this year and the stadium is scheduled to be finished by 2024.

Also in the works is a $22 million field house at the Municipal Stadium property on Memorial Boulevard that will provide space for sports like basketball, soccer, lacrosse and volleyball, as well as be a place to host events like convocations, project officials said.

That facility could be open by late next year.

An auction was scheduled for Wednesday evening to auction seats from Municipal Stadium before it is torn down to make way for the fieldhouse.

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