A plan to expand the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square has itself been expanded from its original design announced early this year, with additional rooms being tacked on along with higher price tag for the project.
The plan now calls for a 12-story, 105-room expansion at the Marriott, bringing it to a total of 404 rooms, according to Thomas Smithgall, vice president of Penn Square Partners, operator of the Marriott franchise.
The idea is to attract more visitors, large groups and events to the hotel and adjoining Lancaster County Convention Center, as well as to continue the city’s downtown revitalization, Smithgall said Thursday.
Part of the plan calls for demolishing three buildings at 14, 16 and 18 E. King St. to make room for the new 12-story tower. High Real Estate Group bought the three properties over several years for $1.3 million.
Smithgall said the project also will expand the hotel’s existing Penn Square Grille and Rendezvous Lounge into the new tower; convert the existing concierge lounge on the 17th floor into guest rooms; create a new “M Club” for Marriott Rewards members on the first floor of the new tower; and create a rooftop lounge on the new 12th floor.
Construction on the approximately 18-month project is expected to begin in mid-2016 with completion by the end of 2017, Smithgall said. Total cost is estimated at $25 million to $30 million, he said.
The original plan, announced in January, called for 96 more rooms at a cost of $23 million to $25 million. Smithgall presented the revised plan to the Lancaster Historical Commission Monday night — part of the approval process whenever buildings are being demolished, he said. He said Penn Square Partners is likely to come back to the commission in January with some additional details and drawings. The commission will make a recommendation to city council when the plans are finalized, he said.
The Lancaster County Convention Center Authority approved the expansion in February. An independent study it initiated in 2012 showed that the number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center was insufficient to attract the desired number of large groups to the city.
The Marriott and convention center opened in 2009 at a cost of $178 million.