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Proposed Lititz Hilton joins booming hotel industry

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News of an upscale boutique Hilton hotel coming to downtown Lititz was met with enthusiasm by local tourism officials and hospitality executives.

Earlier this week, Oak Tree Development Group announced an agreement to open a 74-room Hilton Tapestry Collection hotel as part of the company's redevelopment of the former Wilbur Chocolate plant. The news was first reported by the Lititz Record Express.

The hotel, slated to open in 2019, has been dubbed "The Wilbur." According to the report, it will include a restaurant, meeting rooms and other amenities.

Joel Cliff, a spokesman for Discover Lancaster, which promotes the county as a tourist destination, called The Wilbur a good addition in that part of Lancaster County.

"Lititz continues to raise its profile," Cliff said.

He cited the growth of the Rock Lititz campus, which has its own hotel in development, and traffic from other business and leisure travelers in Lancaster, which is becoming known for more than just Amish farms and outlet centers.

Visitors also are coming for vineyards, fine dining and a growing art scene, he said. In addition, the county has many antique shops and farmers markets.

A new upscale hotel, coinciding with a general upsurge in hotel construction, could prompt existing hotel owners to invest more money in their properties to compete for overnight stays, said Plato Ghinos, president of Shaner Group in State College, which has been building hotels in Central Pennsylvania.

"We welcome any quality hotel product for the region," Ghinos said. "This is an upper scale brand for the region."

David Hogg, CEO of Springwood Hospitality in York County, one of the region's most active Hilton franchisees, cautioned that Lancaster County may be reaching its limit for new hotels, with Home2 and Residence Inn projects currently under construction in Manheim Township. Both properties are connected to new shopping centers near Lancaster.

"I think the immediate Lancaster market will need to catch its breath for a while after these two open," Hogg said.

Nonetheless, he believes the Tapestry in Lititz could carve a nice niche for itself, much like the Lancaster Arts Hotel has done.

"An exciting niche hotel with a good restaurant can generate new visitors to the area who might not have considered Lancaster County for their event or trip if that high-end, specialty hotel experience were not available," Hogg said. "So it's not just taking another slice out of the pie, it can also help grow the pie."

Oak Tree officials were not immediately available for comment on the Lititz project. The company's mixed-use plan for the property first surfaced last May.

This story has been updated with comments from David Hogg.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin and Cumberland counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal.

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