A local developer has signed a contract that will bring a new hotel to Rock Hill, according to city manager David Vehaun.
According to Vehaun, principal developer Skip Tuttle recently inked a deal that will allow for a new hotel to be built adjacent from a 170,000-square-foot sports complex at the University Center project near Winthrop University.
Vehaun said Tuesday he believed the hotel should begin construction at some point this summer, and would be scheduled to open around the same time as the sports arena in the summer of 2018.
Tuttle, who is the principal of The Tuttle Company, did not immediately respond to calls for comment Tuesday. It’s unclear how many rooms the hotel would hold, but Vehaun said the hotel is poised to be an important way to keep tourists inside Rock Hill as they visit the area.
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Rock Hill officials approved a $26 million lease contract last month that could allow the city to lease and operate a proposed indoor sports complex just steps away from Winthrop.
Leaders say the complex would likely attract at least $10 million a year in tourism revenue, and could attract regional basketball and volleyball tournaments, as well as other indoor sports events throughout the year.
Vehaun said he expects hotel construction to begin in the next 45 days. He mentioned that a particular AAU basketball organizer has already expressed interest to relocate his operations to Rock Hill in order to take advantage of the new arena.
The Tuttle Company, Williams & Fudge CEO Gary Williams and master developer Sora-Phelps have worked to redevelop the 23-acre site near the corner of West White and Laurel streets, once home to the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co., commonly known as the Bleachery.
The lease agreement means the city can lease the building over the next 21 years, operate it with its own staff, and then be able to purchase it for $1 once the lease runs out in 2039.
The University Center area is an extension of the Knowledge Park project. The city is hoping the investment and development will serve as a bridge between the Winthrop University campus and the downtown business district.
The finished product at University Center, developers say, will include a hotel, apartments, a market pavilion, retail space, student housing, and a 140,000-square-foot sports complex.
In the meantime, the city will make regular payments to the owners through a 2 percent food and beverage tax and a local 3 percent accommodations tax. No Rock Hill city general fund money will be used to finance the arena, Vehaun said.
“It falls right in the wheelhouse to generate revenue that will pay for the project,” he said. “We really need additional hotels here in town. When we send a lot of people here in Rock Hill up the interstate to Fort Mill or Charlotte, there’s no win for us. This is a win to keep people in Rock Hill, in South Carolina.”
City officials believe the arena, which will consist of space for at least nine full basketball courts, will attract at least 172,000 tourists nationally and generate an estimated $10 million in economic impact.