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- The Forecaster
SOUTH PORTLAND — A four-story, 110-room extended-stay hotel is being proposed off Maine Mall Road near Portland International Jetport.
The project is being developed by hotelier Suresh Gali, who also owns and operates other hotels in the city, including the Howard Johnson on Main Street and the Days Inn on Maine Mall Road.
The hotel would be the first Home2 Suites by Hilton in northern New England. The cost for the nearly 69,000-square-foot building is expected to be around $7.4 million.
It would mark the second of Hilton’s new hotel brands in South Portland. Tru by Hilton will be constructed next to the DoubleTree Hotel, across from the mall.
The Home2 Suites address is 50 Maine Mall Road, but access to the hotel would be off Western and Darling avenues, according to the site plan application now pending before the Planning Board. The total construction time is expected to be between six and eight months.
Gali said the 3.5-acre project would be a redevelopment of the former Eastern Mountain Sports property. The iconic group of 12, six-sided buildings, now torn down, originally housed the New England Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, in Queens, N.Y. The property was listed by the Maine Real Estate Network and the company website said the asking price was $3 million.
“This is a good reuse and redevelopment of a property with close proximity to the jetport and the mall,” said Joshua Reny, South Portland’s economic development director and assistant city manager.
In the staff comments provided to the Planning Board, Reny also said, “There is increasing demand for hotel accommodations in the region, and the mall area in South Portland with its proximity to the jetport is a natural fit for this type of investment.”
He added, “The additional motel rooms on Maine Mall Road will also have a positive economic ripple effect that could lead to additional investments in the area.”
Gali also plans to put up a two-story, 10,000-square-foot building that would house offices on the second floor and retail or a restaurant on the bottom floor.
But he said this week the second building is being put off for now and would constitute a second phase of the project. At this point he is not sure when it would move forward.
Gali said the impetus behind the new hotel is that the South Portland area “has tired old hotel-motel properties and this Home2 Suties will add the fresh new experience that travelers are looking for.
“This hotel is designed for travelers looking for a modern stay experience and complements the growing interest of travelers looking to visit the Greater Portland region. The Home2 Suites would be the first all-suites hotel in South Portland. Each suite offers a separate kitchen space with full-sized appliances, (along with) separate sleeping, working and living space.”
Stephen Puleo, South Portland’s community planner, said the Tru by Hilton project was approved in mid-July and developer Joe VanWhy could break ground as soon as a pre-construction meeting is held with the planning office.
The $8.5 million Tru by Hilton hotel is aimed at millennials and other travelers looking for simplified, low-cost accommodations, according to the company’s website.