Nijo Castle in Newark is being demolished, turned into Marriott AC hotel

(Credit: City of Newark)

Newark is losing a Japanese restaurant and gaining a new hotel — in two and a half years, at least.

On Tuesday, the Newark Planning Commission unanimously granted Nimish Patel, of Patel Real Estate, a conditional use permit to demolish Nijo Castle Japanese Restaurant at 39888 Balentine Drive in order to build a 132-room Marriott AC hotel with two ballrooms, a bar and a roof terrace, among other things. Commissioner Jeff Aguilar was absent.

“I’ve been working on this project for probably three years, with previous iterations,” said Sharad Lal, the architect on the hotel. ” … For this final iteration, Mr. Patel felt that he needed to have an amenity that distinguishes this project from other hotels, and so he decided ballrooms would help to sell the hotel rooms.”

The proposed 75,704-square-foot hotel is expected to include a ground floor with ballrooms, a lobby, bar and dining; a second floor with 33 hotel rooms, like all the other floors, and a fitness room; a third floor with hotel rooms and an open-air inner courtyard with an adjacent ballroom; and two more floors with more hotel rooms.

The hotel is expecting to host weddings, seminars and other events, and the bar and dining area are expected to be open to the public.

Planning Commission William Fitts commended the applicants for choosing to work with a high-end hotel brand like AC Hotels by Marriott. It started off in Spain, so the food is all Spanish, too, Lal said.

Hotels are permitted by right in the regional commercial zone, which the 1.66-acre site is in, said Carmelisa Lopez, a senior planner with the city’s Community Development Department. But a conditional use permit was needed for the banquet halls.

Planning Commission Chair John Becker said 96 parking spots seemed a bit tight for the project, but Lopez said the applicant is expected to develop a transportation management plan that might include shuttle rides to the airport, ride-shares for employees, accommodations for bicycle parking and the like.

“The exact specifics of what the operator will include, we’ll find that out later in the process,” Lopez said, “but we’ll be monitoring every year to make sure that it’s working efficiently.”

That isn’t the only hotel coming online soon. Hyatt Place, which Lal also worked on, is expected to open shortly at 5600 John Muir Drive and is now taking reservations for the upcoming February.

“Newark is fairly well-positioned to take advantage of the hotel market,” said Community Development Director Steven Turner. “And approving a new hotel tonight … it is another investment in our community.”

Nijo Castle has been in business since 2007 and is surrounded by auto dealerships and a Chuck-E-Cheese restaurant.

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