There will be a sense of familiarity as the former Sheraton South near New Castle transitions into a New Castle County homeless shelter next week.
New Castle County Council approved a $2.5 million deal to have Hersha Hospitality Management [HHM] continue to handle day-to-day operations of the property on Airport Road just off of I-95. Settlement took place on December 1, the goal is to open the still-unnamed shelter on December 15, according to count officials.
Councilwoman Lisa Diller said when HHM was willing to stay on after it is no longer owned the hotel, it only made sense.
"This group is not just a hotel management group, they have actually facilitated the transition to homeless shelters in hotels at other states, so they are not without experience in what is going on here."
WDEL first reported on New Castle County plans to use $19.5 million in federal CARES Act money to purchase the 192-room hotel, and the county will spend another $252,400 to aid in the transition and management.
More than $730,000 of that funding is coming from a HUD Special Community Development Block Grant Program, another $500,000 from the Housing Trust Fund, paid into by developers, and just over $1 million from "Anticipated Program Income" to the 2021 Homeless Shelter Grant.
Last month, Casey insisted:
"Our first-year operating budget does not have $1 of New Castle County taxpayer money to operate the hotel," said Carrie Casey of the county's Community Development and Housing Division in November. "Year two, we are not projecting to use $1 of county taxpayer monies to run this hotel," said Casey. "We have a very solid operational plan in place that we've been working on for the last two-and-a-half weeks, and it does not involve any county taxpayer dollars."
Casey also said last month said they are contracting with the non-profit Friendship House in Wilmington, which will run Code Purple operations out of the hotel as their hub, along with other no-profits.
Keeping HHM in play will allow a smooth transition as they'll handle what will become a limited extended-stay model by using the money from the county.
"Housekeeping, utilities, all of the replacement items, maintenance and repairs of the building. This is to keep the lights on and the hotel operating."
HHM still will maintain a traditional hotel presence in Delaware, as they run the Residence Inn on 1300 North Market Street in Wilmington.