Choice Hotels debuts new Rockville headquarters -- Gazette.Net


The company timeline painted on the wall of Choice Hotels’ headquarters ends right about now with a move to Rockville. But the company’s execs are quick to point out that they still have room left to paint in more milestones in the future.

“We’re being kicked out of our old building by noon on Friday,” Stephen P. Joyce, president and CEO of Choice Hotels International, said with a smile.

On Monday, about 400 employees are expected to move into the company’s new headquarters building at the corner of Rockville Pike and East Middle Lane in downtown Rockville in what Joyce lauded as a “new start” for the company.

On Thursday, workers were still installing some fixtures and appliances in preparation for the upcoming move as Joyce and others who worked on the project showed off the new building to a group of reporters and photographers.

The new headquarters is an upgrade from Choice Hotels’ old location on Columbia Pike in Silver Spring, where employees were spread out across three buildings. The Rockville office is big on natural light, glass walls and spaces for people to sit around on couches and collaborate.

An outdoor terrace on the lobby level will include a fire pit. The offices have a bright and modern central staircase. It seems like a small change, but Joyce said it will encourage people to walk around more and become more informed about different areas of the company.

Down one hall, five sample rooms will demonstrate the features of different hotel brands so marketing representatives know what they’re selling and designers can test new ideas, said Pablo Quintana, associate principle with the architecture and design firm VOA Associates.

The 150,000-square-foot office space is also flexible enough to move people around as needed, Quintana said.

“It has been designed for growth,” he said.

Joyce said Choice Hotels considered 15 to 20 different sites when it decided to move its headquarters in early 2009. The company wanted a place close to mass transit in a walkable area, and eventually settled on Rockville.

“We wanted a place where people feel like part of the community,” Joyce said. “... In the end, it actually wasn’t a very difficult decision.”

Another key factor in Choice Hotels’ decision to locate in Rockville was the available space to build one of the chain’s hotels next door, said Steve Stoycos, managing director of Choice Hotels. A Cambria Suites hotel is part of a $100 million Duball development now under construction on East Middle Lane.

“It was key for us,” Stoycos said. The hotel is expected to open in 2015.

Choice Hotels also received an incentives package from the state, county and city, which included grant money, reduced-price parking spaces and tax credits. In return, Choice Hotels must sign a 10-year lease, employ at least 375 people at its headquarters and add 75 more employees within the next five years, according to a 2010 letter of intent.