An unconventional plan to construct a hotel on top of an airport parking garage in Newark’s South Ward has resurfaced in a slightly different way.
Back in 2016, a proposal by 98 Frelinghuysen Real Estate Urban Renewal Entity, LLC to bring a 129-room hotel to 94-120 Frelinghuysen Avenue was revealed. At the time, the company received approvals from the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment to construct a four-story hotel that would be attached to the Secure Newark Airport Parking (SNAP) garage at the corner of Poinier Street. There were also plans for a “sky lobby” with “a bar and breakfast buffet area, a fitness center, business center, meeting room, and lounge,” a legal notice stated at the time.
In the nearly three years since the project was approved, there has been barely any news regarding the hotel proposal. The eight-story SNAP garage has continued operating on the premises just as it has been since it was converted from an abandoned factory to a parking garage in 2012. However, a new ordinance shows that the developer is still planning a hotel on the premises.
The proposal by the 98 Frelinghuysen Real Estate Urban Renewal Entity now calls for the hotel to consist of 110 rooms and for it to be constructed “above the existing parking garage,” according to city records. The website of the State College, Pennsylvania-based Shaner Group features a rendering of the three-story rooftop project and shows that the hotel is expected to be a Comfort Inn & Suites location. Meanwhile, according to Chafia Capital Partners, there are still plans for an “outdoor balcony, bar and breakfast lounge, fitness center, business center, and meeting facilities” as part of the 71,000-square-foot development.
In addition, the developer, which already received a 20-year tax abatement for the parking garage, now wants not a 21-year, not a 22-year, but a 23-year tax abatement in connection with the hotel project. The ordinance states that the company applied to Mayor Ras Baraka for the tax abatement and that the mayor has recommended it to the Newark Municipal Council.
Like nearly all other tax abatement ordinances in Newark, this one states that “the Department of Economic and Housing Development has determined…that the relative benefits of this project outweigh any costs associated with this tax exemption and that without the tax abatement granted herein, the project would not be undertaken.” The developer is expected to pay at least $100,000 in an annual service charge to City Hall for the hotel and 15 percent of the parking garage’s annual gross revenues as part of the deal.
98 Frelinghuysen Real Estate Urban Renewal Entity, LLC owns the property in question and is planning to “deliver a site pad” as part of the project. The firm is registered out of a Bayonne warehouse. The ordinance granting the tax abatement to the LLC was passed by the Newark Municipal Council on first reading earlier this month and could be finally approved during the special meeting on Tuesday, March 26, at 10:00 a.m.
Aside from the apparent design of the hotel atop an existing parking garage, this project is especially unique because of its location. 94-120 Frelinghuysen Avenue is situated in a very industrial section of the South Ward that does not have any other hotels in the immediate vicinity. The immediate area is also not served by public transportation, though it will be exactly one mile north of the Newark Liberty International Airport PATH Station if the transit hub ends up being completed. The property is a three-mile drive north of the airport’s terminals and has easy access to Route 21.
Note to readers: The dates that matters are scheduled to be heard by the Newark Municipal Council and other governing bodies are subject to change.