Hilton hotel deal is sealed for BWI

Va. developer to open $43 million conference facility near airport in '06

Anne Arundel

October 30, 2003|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

A Virginia development firm is looking to build a 280-room Hilton hotel near Baltimore-Washington International Airport to serve travelers as well as Anne Arundel County's expanding corporate community, which is in need of conference facilities.

The Buccini/Pollin Group Inc. of Alexandria has cemented a deal with Hilton to open an 11-story hotel sometime in 2006, said David Pollin, president of the group, a development division of PM Hospitality Strategies Inc. The company is considering three locations near the airport.

"The way we are going to distinguish ourselves from the other hotels in the area is [it is] going to be cutting edge in terms of technology ... and cuisine," said Pollin, whose company also owns SpringHill Suites in Linthicum, an economy hotel that caters to business travelers.

The airport Hilton, which will cost about $43 million to build, would offer wireless high-speed Internet access and a fine-dining restaurant called Aqua, where a team of chefs will make contemporary dishes using fresh fish and Maryland crabs. Hotel guests would be able to work out in a 10,000-square-foot gym with free weights and elliptical trainers.

"The [Hilton] project will complement our current array of hotel options and meet the needs for our businesses in that area," said Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens in a written statement.

County officials are especially excited by the planned 8,600- square-foot ballroom and seven meeting rooms at the hotel.

Although there has been talk of building a conference facility in the county -- most recently at the Crownsville Center, a state hospital that could be shut down -- such a facility hasn't been built. Area high schools are forced to hold graduation ceremonies in Prince George's, Howard or Baltimore counties.

"We don't have anything like this, and we are the state capital," said Bob Burdon, president of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce. "To have this facility going up near BWI with that type of conference ability, that will open up more opportunities for us."

Every year, the chamber is host to a business exposition for local companies, said Burdon, but the event has been limited to about 50 booths because the county lacks a facility large enough to handle more. Burdon said the new Hilton might allow the chamber to expand the event and spotlight more local businesses.

William A. Badger Jr., president of the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp., said the hotel would be an important addition to the county's "gold coast," a growing industrial and retail area near the airport that includes the National Security Agency and Arundel Mills mall. Local officials see the area as an important source of tax revenue.

"It's something to be proud of," Badger said of the area, which has been designated for intense growth since the 1970s. "But it didn't happen without vision. A lot of people played a part in it."

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