An Irish developer is planning to break ground in June on a 124-room European-style hotel on West Street, a welcome development along a corridor Annapolis officials have been pushing for years.
Ted Joyce, a real estate developer who moved to Annapolis two years ago from Kerry County, Ireland, plans to complete his four-story hotel at 176 West St., two blocks from the 214-room Loews Annapolis Hotel, by spring 2000.
"There's a market for it," Joyce said. A colleague "came to visit me and he wanted to be in the city center, and he couldn't get a room. This will have the price of Parole with the ambience of the city center."
Joyce's hotel is one of several recent business developments on a street city officials have pinpointed as a priority for development for more than a decade. Joyce purchased 35 West St. near Church Circle, where his wife plans to open an Irish restaurant named after Irish politician Sean Donlon in the fall.
A three-story office building at 151 West St., built on speculation and completed in January, rapidly filled with tenants. Although lease terms are being worked out, tenants who have laid early claim to space include stockbrokers, high-tech businesses and Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce.
Ricky Schwartzberg, who owns Confections of Annapolis at 53 West St., is negotiating for space near Joyce's hotel site to open a gourmet grocery store in the fall that he hopes will attract out-of-towners.
"We're getting to be a popular destination for development," said Susan K. Zellers, city economic development director. "It's been a lot of people's efforts for a good many years. What we're seeing now is everyone concentrating and making that area work."
Longtime Annapolitans, who remember West Street in its 1950s heyday as the place shoppers went to buy clothing and eat expensive dinners, are happy to see the street's revival.
Lou Hyatt, 70, president of Hyatt Real Estate, said West Street was known before the 1960s for its many "white-tablecloth restaurants."
Hyatt said the street began dying after Parole Shopping Center opened in the late 1950s when developers were starting to look to the suburbs for retail expansion.
Sandy Cohen, president of the Murray Hill Residents Association, said residents are hoping city officials and West Street planners also will attract service-oriented businesses and residential developers.
"We're hoping that the city might have some arrows in the quiver of incentives to help make that happen," Cohen said. "We all see it as an exciting time as West Street comes awake."