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Holiday Inn Express gets thumbs up

SALISBURY — The city is one step closer to having another new hotel and welcoming Holiday Inn back to Salisbury.
Salisbury Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously recommended that City Council approve a request from a High Point developer to build a 90-room, four-story Holiday Inn Express next door to the new Courtyard Marriott.
Bhupen Patel and his hotel development company, BPR Properties, owns the Courtyard Marriott just off East Innes Street at Interstate 85 exit 76 and wants to develop the Holiday Inn Express.
“How are you going to have a Holiday Inn on Marriott Drive?” Planning Board member Randy Reamer joked.
If City Council gives the final nod, Patel would begin construction by the end of the year and open the hotel in late 2015 or early 2016.
James Meacham, executive director for the Rowan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said bringing Holiday Inn back to Salisbury would lure business travelers who are loyal to the brand.
The Wallace family in June 2013 dropped their Holiday Inn franchise on Jake Alexander Boulevard and renamed the property Hotel Salisbury & Conference Center.
Meacham said Hotel Salisbury lost a substantial amount of business when the Wallaces dropped the Holiday Inn name. Many corporate travelers who were loyal to the brand went out of town, not to other Salisbury hotels, Meacham said.
“Any time you lose a corporate flag, there is a segment of the corporate business travel that you lose,” he said.
Most business travelers book online, and Holiday Inn fans headed to the Salisbury area probably ended up staying at Holiday Inns in Kannapolis or Lexington, Meacham said.
Meacham said he was pleased that Planning Board was willing to accommodate Patel, who is requesting four alternates from the city’s design rules:
• A four-story building
• Twenty-four parking spaces labeled as compact, measuring 16 feet deep instead of 18 feet deep (out of 94 parking spaces)
• The drive aisle to the compact spaces reduced to 22 feet
• No second inter-lot connection
Patel said two entrances to the future Holiday Inn parking lot already exist.
The two-acre parcel would remain in a highway business zoning area with a conditional district overlay that prohibits all uses other than a hotel. While the zoning would allow a pylon sign that could be seen from the interstate, city planner Catherine Garner said she does not believe Holiday Inn Express has plans for such a sign at this time.
The new hotel would stand on a vacant lot and be considered infill development, one of the most desirable types of new construction in the city.
Preston Mitchell, the city’s Planning and Development Services manager, was out of town at a conference but listened on speaker phone and offered his comments.
Board Chairman Carl Repsher asked whether the hotel property was partially located in a flood plain, and Mitchell said any flood plain items would be addressed as part of the construction documents, which also require approval.
Mitchell said Patel met all minimum parking requirements. The compact spaces would be located along a section of driveway that leads to the elevated connection to Cracker Barrel, Mitchell said.
When it opened last year, Courtyard Marriott was the city’s first new hotel construction in 13 years. Another new hotel would give Rowan additional flexibility to attract large groups and events, Meacham said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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