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The Concord City Council has granted use permits and other key approvals for an 86-room, 48,100-square-foot Hampton Inn Hotel on the edge of the city’s downtown.

The hotel, which would be built on a triangle-shaped piece of land bounded by Market Street, Clayton Road, Pine Street and Willow Pass Road just east of state Highway 242, is seen as support primarily for business travelers, a representative of the developer told the council, serving the area beyond Concord.

And City Planner Joan Ryan told the council during its Jan. 5 meeting that the hotel will improve the downtown’s western entrance.

Council members shared concerns about parking at the hotel, and about traffic near it. But what generated the most discussion was what could become of the hotel five, 10 or 20 years after it is built.

Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister was concerned that what opens as a Hampton Inn, with a set level of amenities, could at some point sell to a lower-budget operation.

“I know we’ve had hotels that promised us the moon … and they sell their (brand) and it goes downhill from there,” Hoffmeister said. “I just don’t want it to end up being a problem down the road,” a facility like others in the city that have degraded into sources of neighbors’ complaints and frequent police calls.

To address that concern, the council will also require the hotel developers, or later owners of the hotel, to come before the council again for permits if a lesser standard of service is proposed. City Attorney Susanne Brown told the council members they could not simply regulate hotel branding; if a budget hotel chain buys the building in 20 years and offers the same level of amenities, she said, it would not have to apply for new use permits.

The city owned the 1.24-acre site off Market Street until 2017. The land was sold to the TDI Automotive Group, which had eyed building a Chevrolet dealership there and obtained the permits to do so. However, TDI ultimately did not build the dealership and in June 2020 sold the land to WRSJG LLC, which has built and operated other Hilton properties.

In April 2020, the Concord City Council voted unanimously 5-0 to remove a deed restriction on that land requiring the land to host an auto dealership, allowing the hotel application to move ahead “under the Hilton Hotel umbrella,” according to a city staff report.

The council also approved a zoning change, from “regional commercial” to “downtown mixed use,” needed to accommodate the hotel on that land.

A separate commissioned report acknowledges that a hotel on this land will make traffic worse at what is already a complicated Market Street-Willow Pass Road-Pine Street intersection.