Davidson Approves Newest Hotel — Against Some Neighbors’ Wishes
Davidson, North Carolina, a college town nestled just north of Charlotte, is increasingly attracting visitors to its rolling greenways, highly praised restaurants and thriving corporate environment.
Developers say Davidson needs more places for these visitors to lay their heads. Local residents say development needs to slow down.
Amid a packed room of protesters, the Town of Davidson gave conditional approval for a 115-room Hyatt Place hotel last week, paving the way for hotel operator Beacon IMG to add to its collection in the Charlotte metropolitan surrounding area.
Developers are drawn to submarkets of Charlotte, such as Davidson, with hard-to-get spaces and stricter zoning laws.
Beacon President Nish Patel said his company is focused heavily on hospitality in Davidson in particular, as its high barrier to entry means competitors will have a harder time breaking into the market.
“That makes it more exciting for us because it’s more of a protected investment,” Patel said. “If you go into another market and there’s plenty of land everywhere, and they are pretty loose on the zoning, then we wouldn’t have interest — because that means as soon as we build, somebody else will come in and build something else.”
There are also lots of businesses in the suburbs. In addition to Davidson College and multiple restaurants, including nationally featured Kindred, Davidson is home to companies such as Sherwin-Williams (formerly Valspar), Ingersoll Rand and MSC Industrial.
“If [visitors] are working in that market, they are going to want to stay close by. There’s less congestion, less traffic,” Patel said.
“Davidson is a unique market where there’s multiple demand-generators,” Patel said. “There’s not much competition in that space, which is wonderful for us.”
In contrast, the Uptown hospitality market, including Beacon-run Hyatt Place, “has a lot of room-night generators but it also has a lot of rooms in town. It’s a little bit more challenging sometimes, especially on the weekends because you’re competing based on price sometimes — which is not a good place to be,” Patel said.
Opposition From Neighbors
Some members of local group Save Davidson has protested the Hyatt Place, stating its proximity to a school could attract human traffickers and sex criminals, according to The Charlotte Observer. The town commissioners meeting drew a crowd of protesters. One woman even sang her displeasure during her turn at the podium, according to WSOC-TV. The lame-duck board voted 4-1 to approve the hotel. Many protesters said they felt the vote should have been left to the incoming board.
Members of Save Davidson have also made efforts to stop other commercial projects to control growth and protect existing tree canopy. The Hyatt Place plan includes removal of 36 trees; to address this, the developer has agreed to plant 103 trees and 194 shrubs.
The Hyatt Place will be four stories in 74,500 SF on 2.1 acres on Davidson Gateway Drive at Griffith Street. The proposal approved by the town includes a pedestrian plaza and retail space. Beacon also operates Homewood Suites in Davidson and Hampton Inn & Suites in the Ballantyne area.
UPDATE, MAY 22, 10:39 A.M. ET: The story has been updated to clarify Save Davidson's role and stance. The organization pushes for smart growth and greater transparency from the city in terms of development processes. It has not as an organization taken a position on this project, though it has provided some members a forum to oppose it.