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The Hotel at the University of Maryland opens Friday after two years of construction

Jack Roscoe
The Diamondback

After more than two years of construction, The Hotel at the University of Maryland will open its doors to guests on Friday.

Friday will be a “soft opening” for the ten-story building, said Mindy Bianca, a spokeswoman for The Hotel. Its first, second, third and fifth floors will be open, while the other floors are scheduled to finish construction within the month. The first-floor lobby and bar, second-floor meeting rooms and guest rooms on the third and fifth floor were prioritized in construction, Bianca said.

The building, which will be College Park’s only four-star luxury hotel, will serve as an “anchor” for the entire area, according to hotel and university officials.

“The Hotel is really more than a hotel,” said Ken Ulman, the College Park Foundation’s chief strategy officer for economic development. “It’s a true mixed-use project.”

The Hotel, while partnered with the university, is privately owned and operated by Southern Management Corporation. Construction of The Hotel cost more than $180 million and created more than 400 jobs, according to an SMC press release.

This university leases the land and will receive a percent of the building’s revenue, said Jeff Makhlouf, The Hotel general manager and hotel operations director. “This project is the catalyst to change this whole area,” Makhlouf said.

Once finished, The Hotel will have 297 guest rooms — equipped with energy-efficient lighting and heating systems — four restaurants, a spa and 43,000 square feet of meeting space available to its guests.

The building’s tenth floor, which is the penthouse level overlooking the university, will be the last to finish construction, and is scheduled to open late this month. Floors six through nine will open at some point before then, and the fourth floor, which contains a fitness center, pool and zen garden is slated to open mid-September, Bianca said.

Three of The Hotel’s four restaurants — Old Maryland Grill, Bagels ‘n Grinds and Potomac Pizza — will open Friday. The fourth restaurant, Kapnos Taverna, and the Red Door Salon and Spa will open in the future.

For 15 years, the College Park area has needed a hotel and conference center space, Makhlouf said, and The Hotel fills that void.

People who came to College Park for meetings, sporting events, university conferences, weddings and family events in the past had to stay miles away, said Eric Olson, the College Park City-University Partnership’s executive director. People staying here are more likely to patronize the area’s restaurants and other businesses, Olson added.

“The more people we can bring to College Park, the more effective we can be at supporting our overall mission which is to become one of the greatest university communities in the country,” Ulman said.

The Hotel is a “catalyst” and fits in with College Park’s vision of what is to come, Ulman said, which includes getting more university faculty and staff to live in the city.

Since the announcement of The Hotel, real estate value in the surrounding area has increased by as much as 400 percent, Makhlouf said.

The state first approved The Hotel in 2014. At one point, it was slated to open in July 2017. The opening was delayed by months because the Federal Aviation Administration said the original plans for the building conflicted with the College Park Airport and would make the building hazardous, Makhlouf said, so new plans had to be made.

“We didn’t want to be a bad neighbor to anyone,” Makhlouf said.

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