By Dan Gesslein
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 24- In a sign of the continued revitalization of the Bronx, community leaders hailed the opening of the borough's first upscale hotel. The ribbon cutting was also the capping of an odyssey for the Metro Center complex which went from an abandoned factory and vacant land to a thriving college campus style office complex and medical village.
The 125-room Marriott Residence Inn officially opened to great fanfare on Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony with elected officials. Sure the Bronx has many motel rooms but none you would want to spend the night in. New Rochelle boasted the closest place to get a nice hotel room while visiting family rather than a hot-sheet motel. Now all that has changed with the opening of a first-class hotel.
"We’re thrilled that Marriott, one of the world’s premier hospitality companies, chose this location. Metro Center Atrium is unique in the Bronx – there’s nothing quite like it available anywhere else in the Borough. This truly is a landmark event for Metro Center Atrium, for our company, and for the Bronx," said Joseph Simone, President of Simone Development, whose company envisioned and built the Metro Center.
The Marriott is the crowning jewel in the Metro Center complex. The hotel caps off the Metro Center Atrium which is a mix of medical and office space in a suburban style campus.
Twelve years ago Old London Foods moved out of the area behind the Metro North tracks. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr said people were worried about the loss of jobs and that the land would sit unused. Now the Metro Center boasts 370,000 square feet of medical offices, an Applebee's, an LA Fitness and now a first class hotel. The complex also includes Mercy College.
Metro North is planning to reopen the old Morris Park station which will have a stop steps from the Marriott. Thus giving hotel guests access to transportation to Penn Station in Manhattan and upstate New York.
The new hotel is already a success. Officials say that although it officially opened today, the hotel is already 80 percent occupied. Business execs and hospital visitors to the medical centers inside the complex as well as nearby Calvary, Einstein Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center are staying at the new Marriott.
“Today is a great day for the Bronx,” said New York City Council Member James Vacca. “We welcome Marriott as the borough’s first hotel with open arms and hope it is the signal of even more great things to come. Clearly Marriott has recognized that the Bronx is a destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike. We already have beautiful parks, thebest zoo in the nation, the Yankees, and a PGA tour worthy golf course recently completed in nearby Ferry Point Park.”
Father Richard Gorman, chairman of Community Board 12, said the grand opening is a culmination of the revitalization of the borough.
"The Bronx is not only coming back. The Bronx is back," he said.
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