There is a $30 million ratable being built at the site of the former Econo Lodge on the White Horse Pike (Route 30). It’s good news for two reasons: the affordable assisted living facility will be a new ratable and help satisfy a portion of the town’s affordable housing requirement; and the Econo Lodge site, which had become run-down, will be renewed.
The only problem is the elimination of the Econo Lodge all but eliminates motel rooms in Hammonton. Only the Red Carpet Inn remains.
Councilman William Olivo discussed the concept of a boutique hotel at 108 Bellevue Avenue, at the former site of Advocare Main Street Family Medicine, which recently vacated the site and moved to a new location on the White Horse Pike. There are also two vacant floors above the former doctors’ offices. The remainder of that side of the block is filled with tenants, including doctors, lawyers, retail stores, Dancexplosion and more. A boutique hotel would fit well within the block, and the downtown. There is parking located behind the building on Vine Street, which would likely need to be expanded.
The council passed a resolution that would permit the town to seek grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture for a $75,000 feasibility study to start the process of renovating the late 1800s-era building into a boutique hotel.
There would be many benefits to the project. It would provide quality lodging to people who come into town to visit family, on business or for tourism. The hotel would be a centerpiece of downtown revitalization, joining town hall, St. Joseph Academy, Stockton University’s Kramer Hall, churches, the United States Post Office, the town clock and all the other revitalized buildings, shops, restaurants and offices of the area. Many of these institutions, larger businesses and the agricultural industry could benefit from the hotel project.
We know this project will take time to come to fruition. We support the concept, which will fill a building that is currently vacant and create a beneficial use, for the downtown and the entire town.