Marriott International officials said part of the reason the global hotel company is moving its headquarters to downtown Bethesda is to be Metro accessible, but that doesn’t mean it is expecting employees and visitors to abandon their cars.
That’s why, as part of Montgomery County’s agreement with the hotel giant, the county will supply Marriott with 1,200 dedicated parking spaces downtown, county spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Wednesday.
Marriott announced Tuesday it would build a new $600 million, 700,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Bethesda that would house about 3,500 employees as well as a 200-room hotel. As part of the deal, the company will receive at least $44 million in financial incentives with the state and county each paying half. The company plans to move to the new headquarters when its lease expires at its Fernwood Road building in 2022. Marriott plans to identify a specific site downtown in the first quarter of 2017, and real estate sources tell Bethesda Beat several properties may meet the company’s requirements.
Lacefield said the county will supply the parking spaces for $2 million per year or $40 million over a 20-year period as part of the deal. He said the spaces could be built in a new county parking garage or be dedicated to Marriott in existing garages depending on the site Marriott chooses. “Precisely where those spaces will be or in what form depends on what site they end up taking,” Lacefield said.
He said it’s too early to tell whether 1,200 more vehicles streaming into downtown Bethesda on weekdays would exacerbate traffic issues. He noted that Marriott has already stated the company’s interest in providing its employees with public transportation options.
If the county were to build a new garage for Marriott, it would be larger than any of Bethesda’s nine county garages. The Woodmont Corner garage at the intersection of Woodmont Avenue and Old Georgetown Road is the largest in Bethesda with 1,121 spaces, while the new Capital Crescent Garage near Bethesda Row has 1,027 spaces, according to the county’s transportation department website.
The parking deal was part of the agreement the county and state entered to retain Marriott, which has been headquartered in the county for the past 60 years. The state and county also agreed to provide the company with $22 million each in economic development funds, provided the company builds the new headquarters and employs 3,500 people. The agreement must still be approved by the state legislature and the Montgomery County Council.
The company will also be eligible for $15 million to $18 million in tax credits, under state law, according to Lacefield. He said the company would receive the credits provided it adds a small number of jobs—less than 100—and builds the headquarters. The county would be responsible for $10 million to $12 million of the credits, while the state would be responsible for the other $5 million to $6 million, Lacefield said.