Growth welcome to city residents

Development sparks hopes in Annapolis for West Street area

April 05, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

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 still being worked out, tenants who have laid early claim to space include stockbrokers, high-tech businesses and the 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."

"The good restaurants were on West Street, and the beer joints and bars were down by the city dock," said Hyatt, who was born on Cornhill Street downtown and is a lifelong city resident. "It was a major business district."

Hyatt said the street began dying after the Parole Shopping Center opened in the late 1950s when developers were starting to look to the suburbs for retail expansion.

Among the stores shut down were a popular dress shop, Oscar Shack's Clothing Store, where Joyce plans to build his Irish restaurant, and Greengold's Clothing Store on the same block, where Annapolitans and farmers from South County flocked to buy suits and shirts.

The butcher shops, bakeries and grocery stores that lined blocks further down West Street, where the new hotel will go up, closed as supermarkets opened in the suburbs.

"I'm happy to see it rejuvenated," Hyatt said.

Phillip Dunn, president of Herrmann-Dunn Real Estate, which built the 151 West Street building, said Joyce's hotel will help the area flourish.

"Many of these companies will be entertaining people from out of town," Dunn said. "This will be a drawing card for people that do entertain businesses."

Joyce said he wants the hotel to reflect the historic character of Annapolis with "deep couches, large fireplaces and old paintings something you'd see in London or Dublin."

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."

Pub Date: 4/05/99

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