A $39.4 million expansion of the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square is one step closer to completion as the developer prepares for a March opening of the new space.
Lancaster County-based High Real Estate Group LLC on Tuesday held a special topping off ceremony to commemorate the placement of the last steel beam on the east tower expansion, a 12-story, 87,000-square-foot addition that started last summer.
The expansion will bring the downtown hotel, which is connected to the Lancaster County Convention Center, to 416 rooms, said Mark Fitzgerald, president and COO of High Real Estate Group and Penn Square Partners, operator of the Marriott franchise.
“We think by adding 117 rooms in total, we will be able to go after business we couldn’t get before,” Fitzgerald told the Business Journal, citing large group events that attract 500 to 700 people per night. “We can almost double the amount of events we can now attract to the city with these rooms.”
More events and larger events could mean more money for restaurants and bars, as well as retail shops, he said. The increased hotel and convention center activity also could help attract more businesses to the city, which has seen steady economic growth in recent years.
“There is no doubt that this facility has been a boon for the city of Lancaster,” Fitzgerald said. “We have a really interesting food scene that has been nationally recognized by the New York Times and Alton Brown (of the Food Network).”
In addition to the rooms, the tower expansion project will add a new rooftop bar to the hotel. The hotel’s existing restaurant and bar also will be renovated, while an existing lounge area is being converted to guest rooms.
Penn Square also is adding a new “M Club” for Marriott Rewards members on the first floor of the new tower.
The Marriott expansion project was approved in early 2015. An independent study initiated by the authority in 2012 showed that the number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center was insufficient.
Penn Square Partners opened the hotel in 2009 at a cost of $178 million.