Event center approved at double hotel site in North Brunswick

NORTH BRUNSWICK – An event center will be built between the Staybridge Suites and the Holiday Inn Express and Suites on Route 1 in North Brunswick.

Experts testifying on behalf of Koyal Realty LLC came before the North Brunswick Planning Board on Feb. 11 to discuss a building that would sit between the two properties at 2195 and 2095 Route 1, respectively.

Attorney James Stahl had said this is technically a new application, but in actuality it is the second or third revision of an existing plan. He said a 12,000-square-foot facility accommodating 400 patrons at a catering and meeting facility has been downsized to a 9,868-square-foot facility with a maximum occupancy of 250 guests and 30 catering employees.

Members of the Planning Board unanimously approved the application after discussions on the amount of available parking continued during the board’s June 9 meeting.

“I think this was an effort by my client to really bring something important to the town. We reduced the building, we changed the building, we changed the parking,” Stahl said.

Traffic engineer Jay Troutman testified on June 9, based on a report from March 26, that although the township ordinance requires one space per hotel room, the traffic counts at the Staybridge are 0.7 cars per occupied room at dinnertime and at midnight.

“These numbers just never reach one space per occupied room. I think a lot of times business travel people will share one rental car … and you have a lot of rideshare opportunities and people don’t even use rental cars,” he said.

He said the parking counts are similar to other hotels around town.

As a condition of approval, the catering staff must be bused in from another location; that relieves the parking lot of 20 to 30 cars, he said.

Addressing concerns of an influx of patrons during Rutgers University football games or graduation ceremonies, Troutman said, “Even at full occupancy they are only going to use 70% of what’s required.”

The Holiday Inn contains 93 rooms while the Staybridge has 84 rooms. The hotel needs 60 parking spaces and the banquet facility will have 63 parking spaces, for a total of 123; the capacity is 124 without adding in the parking spaces at the Holiday Inn.

Though there are 250 attendees allowed at maximum capacity, the counts are based on one parking spot for every four people.

Township Planner Tom Vigna and Planning Board Chairman Rich Zangara said estimated counts do not always reflect reality.

“At the end of the day it’s a business and the business owners need to take responsibility. Enforcement is always an issue, but there are consequences. When the attendees are parking maybe on the wrong road and they end up with their car not being there when they leave the event, they will lose business. So it’s a fine line, but I can understand, like Tom said, reality may be different than paper,” Zangara said.

Stahl responded by saying he agrees, and that if there is a shortage of parking spaces, customers will complain to management and then management will have to address the issue.

With the approval in place, the applicant can begin working on plans to construct the event center, which will be used for business meetings, conferences, life cycle events, political events, etc.

As proposed, a full kitchen and storage will be in the basement; the atrium and colonnade hall will be two stories high; two “green rooms” will be pre-party areas on the first and second floors for the guest(s) of honor to prepare; the second floor will house the manager’s office; a rooftop terrace will be open during nice weather for pre-party events or a cocktail hour; and a garden area will be created in the back.

Rita Courville, the general manager of the hotels, previously said extended stay hotels generally accommodate guests for seven to 30 days. Such hotels typically cater to business traffic, with Sunday through Thursday nights being the busiest, with a lapse on the weekends.

Stahl said hours of operation would be “unlimited” since guests could come and go, but not 24/7.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.