Why Marriott Stayed
An inside account of the hotel giant’s decision to relocate its headquarters to downtown Bethesda, rather than move away
Where Will Marriott Employees Park?
Marriott’s plan to conduct an extensive pre-move “awareness campaign” for employees that emphasizes public transit could help reduce the need for more parking. But that might not be enough.
Currently, nearly 3,000 headquarters employees—83 percent—drive to work. Though Marriott projects that number will drop to 1,900 when the new downtown Bethesda offices are ready, the 811 spaces beneath the headquarters and hotel were deemed insufficient. To assuage Marriott’s concerns, the county offered the public garage across Woodmont Avenue with its 1,200 spaces. The garage will be exclusively for Marriott’s use on weekdays until 6:30 p.m., a privilege for which the company will pay $2 million annually for at least 20 years—$500,000 more than the county now derives from the garage each year. That made it a revenue gain for the county, if also a loss to members of the public who will only have access to the garage on weekday evenings and weekends.
It is also a loss to Woodmont Grill, which is adjacent to the Marriott project and across the street from the garage. “Not only my company, but other merchants on Woodmont had come to rely on that parking structure,” says W. Glenn Viers, vice president and general counsel of Hillstone Restaurant Group, which owns Woodmont Grill. “I’m just a little surprised the county would take a public [garage] and dedicate it to private purposes.”