Planning board approves new hotel


This artist's rendering shows what an avid hotel looks like.


Staff Writer

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Details about a future lodging establishment in the northwestern part of Rocky Mount are coming more into focus.

In a meeting lasting less than 20 minutes on Tuesday evening, the Rocky Mount Planning Board approved a preliminary plan for an avid hotel, to be at what was the Gateway Convention Center between Curtis Ellis Drive and Gateway Boulevard.

The company, avid, whose trademark starts with a lowercase “a,” is part of the British-based InterContinental Hotels Group.

Nicholas Rightmyer, the site engineer for the project, and Olga Pizzi, the architect for the project, told the panel about the details.

“It’s a perfect location for a hotel,” Rightmyer said, noting the presence of adjacent hotels.

Rightmyer said the plan is for a four-story, 105-room structure, with the location being two parcels of land totaling 5.6 acres. The two parcels will be recombined into one.

Rightmyer said the plan calls for keeping the convention center part of the former Gateway Convention Center in place but demolishing about 16,000 square feet of former retail space facing Curtis Ellis Drive.

He said the hotel building will have a footprint of approximately 12,500 square feet.

He said the plan calls for a reconfiguration of the site to remove 22 parking spaces and add 80 parking spaces for a total of 263 parking spaces.

Additionally, he said there are out-parcels to be developed in the future for commercial usage, with one having an 8,700-square-foot area and another having a 4,000-square-foot area.

Pizzi told the Planning Board the avid brand is new and only a small number of hotels bearing the avid name have been built.

“So we’re bringing the latest and greatest to Rocky Mount,” Pizzi said.

Rightmyer and Pizzi also showed the Planning Board images of what an avid hotel looks like.

Overall, Pizzi said, “it’s a really beautiful design — and they worked on this prototype with one of the best firms in the world for this kind of hotel.”

“The rooms are simple, but they’re refined,” she said.

The Planning Board quickly voted without dissent for the preliminary plan, provided the applicant meets the following conditions set by municipal staff:

A recombination plat must be submitted for review and recorded with the Nash County Register of Deeds.

A sidewalk must be constructed along Gateway Boulevard.

A payment must be made in lieu of construction of a sidewalk along Curtis Ellis Drive.

Pizzi told the Telegram afterward the plan is for the future avid hotel to be accessible from both Curtis Ellis Drive and Gateway Boulevard.

He also said the plan is to renovate the interior of the convention center part of the former Gateway Convention Center for use as a conference center.

The Planning Board’s vote on Tuesday does not mean construction crews now can go out and start work, however.

JoSeth Bocook, a planning administrator with the city Development Services Department, told the Telegram in an email on Wednesday that the applicant next must submit a more detailed construction plan for review by the local Developmental Review Committee.

The committee is comprised of a variety of city department officials and officials from outside agencies.

Bocook also said the city inspection division must approve the applicant’s architectural plans before a building permit can be issued.

The project does not require approval by the City Council.

An IHG spokesperson, in a recent email to the Telegram, said the plan is for the avid in Rocky Mount to open by sometime between May and June in 2021.

The spokesperson said nearly 50 avid hotels either are under construction or have planning approved.

The avid in Rocky Mount will join a future Tru by Hilton, a DoubleTree by Hilton, a Comfort Inn, a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Courtyard by Marriott along Gateway Boulevard.

Meanwhile, the community’s chief civic official told the Telegram another hotel could be added to the already growing list of lodging establishments.

Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris said on Monday “that there’s one more that I can’t name yet that is looking at this area.”

Asked specifically whether there is a prospective hotelier looking at building a location in Rocky Mount, Farris said, “Yes-sir, yes-sir.”

As for the prospect, on a scale of one to 10 for being committed to coming, Farris said, “I’d put ’em on the north side of five.

“They’re nibbling around,” Farris said.