|By Amanda Falcone, The Hartford Courant,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 31, 2012--WEST HARTFORD -- The town is now requesting proposals for the development of a hotel on Raymond Road.
"We are excited," Town Manager Ronald Van Winkle said this week. "It's a process. It's not a done deal."
For years, town officials have talked about building a hotel in West Hartford, and they've recently gone from having those informal discussions to taking action.
The first step was for the town council to declare 90 Raymond Road, land owned by the town, a surplus property. The 4-acre parcel located across from the police station had to be deemed surplus before the town could legally request project proposals, and the council did so last week.
In its 13-page request for proposals, West Hartford says it wants a full-service hotel with about 120 rooms. It prefers an energy conscious independent boutique or a hotel with a flag property and wants the hotel to use the national reservation system and offer amenities.
Van Winkle says the town also wants a company that has financial backing, experience and vision. The town will not make special exceptions for a developer, the request for proposals says, and the property will be sold or leased as it is.
"The town is not interested in proposals seeking tax abatement or the use of the town's eminent domain powers," it states.
The town reserves the right to evaluate proposals and reject them for whatever reason. It will review proposals on paper before inviting some applicants to town hall for an interview.
Van Winkle says he is expecting a lot of project applications.
"I've had calls from California, Chicago and all over Connecticut," Van Winkle said, noting that he received the calls long before the request for proposals went out.
A hotel will strengthen the local economy, Van Winkle said. The hotel would hopefully utilize a nearby parking garage, have business arrangements with local gyms and restaurants and hotel guests would visit Blue Back Square and West Hartford Center, he said.
While optimistic, Van Winkle is also realistic. The market for hotels is pretty weak because of the economy, and the Harford market is not particularly great, he said.
West Hartford will accept proposals until Aug. 15. A zoning ordinance for a hotel project could be submitted to the council by next January and zoning hearings could be held in March, Van Winkle said.
(c)2012 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
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