Hotel’s future to be unveiled 

Colliers International Hotels is expected to make an announcement this afternoon regarding the possible sale of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel in downtown San Mateo.

Rumors of a sale and possible transformation into a boutique hotel have been floating around San Mateo since October, but Colliers Vice President Henry Bose has declined to comment until this point. If the building is reopened as a new hotel, the influx of travelers could bring increased business in downtown stores and increased hotel tax revenues for the city.

"It’s a key business downtown. It’s one of our iconic structures," Kelly Mitter, director of the Downtown San Mateo Association, said of the 81-year-old building. "More importantly, to have a hotel downtown is an important thing for us. We need to get that property back in utilization."

Now that travelers are returning after the "dot bomb" economic downswing, Mitter said the association frequently receives calls from those looking to stay within walking distance of downtown San Mateo.

But if the hotel were to reopen, the city and any potential developer would need to work out a way to provide parking to the building, Mayor Jack Matthews said. Lack of parking killed a proposed 40-unit condominium project on the site in 2005, but the problem could be dealt with through valet parking in an off-site lot.

"Parking is more of an issue than it used to be because our downtown is doing so well," Matthews said.

Before filing for bankruptcy in 2002, United Airlines used the hotel to house employees who flew in to San Francisco International Airport. The employees — who were shuttled to and from SFO — generally did not require parking.

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