Under a tent to protect attendees from the threatening rain clouds overhead, Choice Hotels symbolically announced the opening of its new Rockville headquarters at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. Local officials and corporate bigwigs congratulated each other on the finished Choice Hotels International headquarters and welcomed employees to the new building and to Rockville.
“Personally, I wanted to call it intergalactic (headquarters), but they told me that was overreaching,” quipped Choice Hotels President and CEO Stephen P. Joyce. “We’ll see, in time.”
Rockville Councilwoman Bridget Donnell Newton, speaking on behalf of the city’s Mayor and Council, heralded the project as an example of a successful public-private partnership.
“We are delighted to have you as our new neighbor,” she said.
Steve Silverman, director of the county’s Department of Economic Development, called the partnership between state, county and city officials to bring Choice Hotels and a planned Cambria Suites hotel to Rockville’s Town Center unprecedented.
“It is a great shot in the arm to Rockville and to our community,” he said. “... Montgomery County, Rockville and the state of Maryland are open for business.”
To lure Choice Hotels International to Rockville and to keep it from moving out of state, the city, county and state put together an incentives package that included grant money, reduced-price parking spaces and tax credits in exchange for the company hiring and retaining employees.
Clayton Foulger, principal at Foulger-Pratt, which developed the headquarters property, said without the incentive package, Rockville “would have been eliminated very early on in the search process” when Choice Hotels was looking for a new headquarters space.
Joyce said the company couldn’t be happier with the result of the public-private partnership that brought the headquarters to Rockville. He also said the company could not have moved without support from local governments, especially when executives first started talking about moving “in the dark days of ’09.”
“A couple of people suggested we look at the old building and buy a few cans of paint,” he said.
Choice Hotels broke ground on its new headquarters in 2011 and moved its employees from Silver Spring to the new building on Rockville Pike in April. Already, Joyce said employees are making the building their home. Apparently the rooms designed without seating to encourage holding quick meetings while standing up were a little too innovative, Joyce said, since employees quickly moved furniture into them.
A Cambria Suites, owned by Choice Hotels, is under construction across the street from the new headquarters. Joyce said he expects it to be completed sometime next year.