March 5, 2014

Fort Mill to get second hotel

A developer is planning to build another name-brand hotel inside Fort Mill town limits.

Fort Mill is getting another hotel.

Last fall, Warren Norman Co. unveiled plans to develop a six-story, 102-room Hampton Inn and Suites behind Lowe’s Home Improvement off S.C. 160. Now the company has plans for another.

“We have contracted with a second hotel,” said Ralph Norman, company president.

Norman didn’t say which hotel brand is coming, but said it’s on “another site nearby” the Hampton Inn and will be in Fort Mill town limits. The second hotel will be “a little bit smaller” at 90 or so rooms.

“It’ll be a national brand,” said Norman, an S.C. House Republican from Rock Hill.

When they open, the two will be the only hotels or motels operating inside Fort Mill town limits.

Norman said his company will announce the name along with groundbreaking of the first hotel, likely within the month.

Town Manager Dennis Pieper said the town is excited to be working with a company with “an outstanding reputation for building first-class projects.”

“The hotel will be a great economic development project that fills a void for much-needed accommodations for those conducting business and for those visiting the area,” he said. “The project will provide additional job opportunities, tax revenues and more to the town.”

Norman said it wouldn’t be surprising to see more hotels interested in York County, particularly Fort Mill. He sees the area as a destination for a variety of travelers. He also sees the hotels as a benefit to the local tax base.

“Fort Mill is a hotbed of activity,” Norman said. “And of course now it’s commercial, which pays the bills.”

The new hotel in Fort Mill will enter a region where many seem to think it’s needed.

Last week, developers broke ground on a new Embassy Suites hotel at Ayrsley in Charlotte’s Steele Creek area, just across the border in North Carolina. It’s the third hotel within that 185-acre development.

“Southwest Mecklenburg and the communities of Steele Creek, Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Rock Hill have lacked a full-service hotel that can handle substantial meetings, corporate events, rehearsal dinners and elegant wedding receptions all at the same time,” said Tom Henson, CEO of Ayrsley Development Corp. and Ayrsley Hotel Associates III.

Another Steele Creek project, Charlotte Premium Outlets at N.C. 160 and Interstate 485, is under construction and had nearby property rezoned for a hotel.

Last week, the Herald reported Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols sees need for a downtown hotel there as “Main Street and downtown Rock Hill will become a destination.” Echols also said there could be hotels needed along the Dave Lyle Boulevard corridor near the Rock Hill Galleria or in Riverwalk.

Lisa Meadows, executive director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, sees a variety of area attractions contributing to the rise in hotels, along with special events for residents and guests.

“The growth of many of our tourism activities like meetings, reunions, corporate business, group tour, sports and leisure travel contribute to the demand for new hotels,” she said. “Recent announcements by Carowinds for expansion also aid in demand and supply which creates an opportunity for new hotels to break ground.”

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