Mayor: Hotel needed in downtown Rock Hill

adouglas@heraldonline.comFebruary 25, 2014 

As construction on a new office building, parking garage and public park in downtown Rock Hill is within about six months of wrapping up, Mayor Doug Echols says he sees the need to add a hotel to the city’s Main Street skyline.

Business leaders and city officials have mulled the idea of a downtown hotel for a few years. On Tuesday, Echols said the project is a reality, “not a pie in the sky” discussion.

Echols and the city’s top leadership discussed several ongoing projects around Rock Hill during a meeting with local and Charlotte-based media outlets on Tuesday afternoon. The under-construction four-story office building with an attached parking garage is part of “Downtown East” development – a partnership between the city and Comporium Communications.

To complement the new commercial development, Rock Hill is paying for a 1.6 acre park that replaces an old municipal parking lot at Main Street and Elizabeth Lane in downtown.

Downtown East is one example of Rock Hill being “on the cusp of a transformational situation,” Echols said, adding that “Main Street and downtown Rock Hill will become a destination” for residents and visitors to the city.

With growth, he said, there’s a need for more hotels to serve visitors. Business leaders have proposed building a downtown hotel on the site currently occupied by TD Bank, across Main Street from the future park.

As sports tourism expands in Rock Hill, Echols said, there may also be a need for other hotels to open along Dave Lyle Boulevard, near the Rock Hill Galleria, and in Riverwalk, a residential and recreational development off Cherry Road, near Interstate 77.

Riverwalk and Rock Hill’s Outdoor Center at Riverwalk is one major hub for sports tourism in the city. This summer, city leaders will celebrate the opening of a new BMX Supercross track. The center’s recreational offerings already include a competitive cycling velodrome and several biking and walking trails along the Catawba River.

It’s likely, Echols said, that Rock Hill’s BMX facility could host Olympians from around the world to train for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other projects discussed Tuesday include:

• “Knowledge Park,” Rock Hill’s latest economic development plan, is set to transform the city’s former textile area located between downtown and Winthrop University. A key part of the redevelopment includes making use of the old Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co. site, commonly referred to as the Bleachery. On Monday, the private developer chosen to lead Knowledge Park efforts will present for the first time publicly his master plan for the old textile properties. While it will take years to fully develop the nearly 100 acres between downtown Rock Hill and Winthrop, Echols says he expects to see building “activity” later this year.

• Expanding law enforcement, fire and utility services to accommodate growth. Rock Hill will soon open a $1.7 million expansion to its Law Center on Black Street in downtown. City leaders have recently proposed at least one new fire substation to be built over the next several years. And, Rock Hill officials say the city’s wastewater treatment plant located on Red River Road will need more capacity soon.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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