Marriott franchise planned for West Main

After two years on the market and a few unrealized developments, the properties at 301 W. Main St. are under contract with a West Virginia hotel management firm called Virginia Inn Management, Inc., to build a Marriott franchise on the corner of West Main and Ridge/McIntire roads. The hotel chain confirmed that the site is tentatively slated for a 2014 opening.

The property at 301 W. Main St. was once a showroom for Russell Mooney’s Oldsmobile business. Now, the lot (shown in a 2007 photo) is under contract with West Virginia hotel developer Virginia Inn Management, Inc. (Photo by Eric Kelley)

“There is a property that we have listed as approved for development,” said Jackie Berra, a communications representative for Marriott. Berra said the site was listed as a Residence Inn.

The property is currently owned by the family of Russell Mooney, who ran Mooney Oldsmobile in the 1950s, when West Main Street was a stretch of auto garages. In 2007, Charlottesville rezoned the building at the request of developer Bob Englander, who planned to develop a 101′-tall mixed-use building at the site. (A CVS Pharmacy was under consideration, but ultimately was built on The Corner.)

The property, listed at roughly $4 million, has been on the market for several years. Charlottesville Planning Manager Missy Creasy told C-VILLE that city planners don’t have a formal application at present, but a developer visited a few months ago to discuss the site.

“We met with some folks a number of months ago. They asked a lot of questions about potential for the site.” The by-right options for 301 West Main include fast food restaurants and pharmacies, but Creasy said the developer was interested in hotel possibilities.

And there are a few. With special use permits, a hotel could reach that 101′ height and contain as many as 240 units. The site is currently listed as “in contract” by real estate broker CB Richard Ellis. C-VILLE contacted the developer, West Virginia-based Virginia Inn Management, but did not receive comments by press time.

Russell Mooney, Jr., who owns the property with his siblings, told C-VILLE last year that he needed to rent or sell the structure in order to pay city property taxes. “I can’t afford to have it as an antique,” he said at the time.

Jim Mooney, grandson of Russell Sr., told the Board of Architectural Review, “If a buyer were to come along that wanted to keep that property for some reason, we’d be fine with that.” However, according to Berra, Marriott lists the project as “a new build, instead of a conversion from an existing building.”

The significance of a hotel near Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall shouldn’t be lost on anyone within sight of the Landmark Hotel, which has been preserved in skeletal form since construction stopped in 2009. While Virginia Inn Management did not return responses to questions, a VIM management trainee writes on his LinkedIn profile that the company owns and operates hotels in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and West Virginia. Charlottesville’s other Residence Inn, on Millmont Street, is owned by HPTMI Corporation, and has 108 rooms.

Reached for comment, Russell Mooney, Jr., told C-VILLE that he had not heard anything concerning development plans for the property.

“Maybe there’s something in the [rumor] mill, but I haven’t heard it.” Although, now, we suppose he has.


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