Planners Consider Hotel at Bell Works

December 26, 2017
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Somerset Development, the owners of the Bell Works facility, are proposing to build a 186-room hotel at Bell Works. Its main draw would be for business commuters to the new commercial hub. Photo by Jay Cook

By John Sorce |

HOLMDEL – A hotel to serve business travelers is part of the redevelopment plan for the evolving Bell Works facility on Crawfords Corner Road.

On Tuesday, the Holmdel Planning Board was presented with a description of what that hotel could look like when Somerset Development came before the board to seek approval to permit the development of a one-story hotel.

The proposed 116,264 square-foot hotel would consist of no more than 200 rooms, with 186 being the ideal number, according to Jorge Szendiuch of Perkins Eastman Architects in New York.  It could be completed by the middle of 2020, he said.

The applicant discussed 100,000 square feet of basement space in their plan, which is not part of the proposed hotel. That sparked some confusion on the board.

Ralph Zucker, president of Somerset Development, said in his presentation said that 60,000 square feet of the space in the basement was for parking in the future if needed. But there were no immediate plans to use that space.

“We don’t have a program for down there (in the basement level) yet,” said Michael Bruno, the attorney representing Somerset Development. “We would ask for the variance with the condition that if we do anything down there we would have to come back and get it approved.”

The planning board was unable to determine whether or not the applicant would need relief due to the uncertainty of what is going to happen in the basement level. The discussion will continue at the next meeting on Jan. 30.

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As currently constructed, the Bell Works parking lot can accommodate over 4,200 vehicles. Zucker said they planned to add about 220 spots, or 1.1 spots per hotel room, which is a requirement for hotels indicated in the redevelopment plan.

But with Bell Works continuing to lease vacant space, the board questioned if there would be enough parking to accommodate all the various uses at the facility, which may include laboratories, offices, retail, financial institutions, conference centers, restaurants, child care centers, health clubs, education centers and more.

“There are parking requirements for more than just offices. If you put something else down there, like health care, that requires more parking,” said board planner Jennifer C. Beahm with CME Associates. “We’re just basing this on what your professional provided to us that shows ‘N/A’ with no parking requirement associated with over 100,000 square foot in the basement.

“We need more information in order to have a resolution that accurately reflects the circumstances,” she continued. “That’s 100,000 square feet and it generates a parking requirement that is not factored in. The reality is, there’s plenty parking of there currently, but the ordinance required parking per use and you don’t have a use identified.

Along with the hotel improvements, Somerset Development is also looking to add modified parking stalls, ADA accessible parking stalls, ADA accessible ramps for interior and exterior access to the building and six electric vehicle charging stations in various locations.

Bell Works has become known as the “Silicon Valley of the East” due to its high-tech corporations and advanced amenities. Zucker referred to Bell Works as a “Metropolis in a suburban community” and that people need a place to stay within the facility.

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This article was first published in the Dec. 21-28, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.

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