City approves new Holiday Inn, Livingstone buying old hotel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SALISBURY — The city has a new Holiday Inn on the way and an old Holiday Inn is turning into a college campus.
On the same day that City Council approved a request to build a new Holiday Inn Express on East Innes Street, Livingstone College submitted plans to put a hospitality school in the old Holiday Inn on Jake Alexander Boulevard.
Livingstone on Tuesday submitted a request to city staff to rezone the 181-room former hotel at 530 Jake Alexander Blvd. S., which closed earlier this month. The applicant is Jimmy Norwood of Norwood Architecture for Livingstone College.
The college proposes using the old hotel for dormitories, classrooms, meeting spaces and training kitchens for the culinary program, according to Preston Mitchell, the city’s Planning and Development Services manager. Dorm rooms would open in the former hotel this fall.
Upfit for other uses like the training kitchens would occur during this winter, with the college moving in next spring, Mitchell said.
The rezoning and phased plans are separate requests. The college is seeking a general rezoning to institutional campus, the same zoning as other Livingstone properties, which would allow typical college uses. Mitchell said he expects the college to submit plans for the upfit over time this fall.
The Wallace family is in the process of selling the 26-year-old former hotel to the school. The family dropped the Holiday Inn franchise in 2013 and operated the business as Hotel Salisbury and Conference Center for about a year.
Reservations decreased significantly when the Wallaces gave up the Holiday Inn banner.
City Council will hold a public hearing Sept. 2 on the college’s rezoning request.
On the other side of town, a High Point hotel developer plans to build a four-story, 90-room Holiday Inn Express.
Bhupen Patel, who built and owns the new Courtyard Marriott on East Innes Street, received an enthusiastic thumbs up from City Council to develop a Holiday Inn Express next door. The two hotels will make up the loss of 181 rooms from the closing of the former Holiday Inn.
The success of the Courtyard Marriott, which has been “performing very well,” made Patel willing to invest in a second property in Salisbury, Councilman Brian Miller said.
Despite the number of hotels in town, Salisbury has been underserved, he said.
“Our market didn’t have too few hotel rooms, we just didn’t have enough nice ones,” Miller said.
The new hotel will boost the tax base, improve the aesthetics as visitors come off the interstate and increase hotel room tax revenue, which funds tourism marketing, he said.
Patel plans to begin construction by the end of the year and open the hotel in late 2015 or early 2016.
City Council approved four alternatives to 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. Two entrances to the future Holiday Inn parking lot already exist.
During construction, the driveway to the Cracker Barrel may be temporarily blocked, and the retaining wall likely will come down, Mitchell said. The two-acre lot has little room for construction equipment to maneuver, he said.
But the driveway will reopen, and the developer will rebuild the retaining wall, he said.
“That is a critical connection,” Mitchell said.
Interest in Salisbury and new investment not only downtown but in outlying areas are driving the need for additional hotel rooms, Mitchell said.
“We certainly have that need now, and it’s being met by Mr. Patel,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.