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Work continues on new hotels

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Construction of the Fairfield by Marriott continues Friday along Wellspring Drive in Rocky Mount.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Monday, July 22, 2019

A future Fairfield by Marriott is taking shape in an area of Rocky Mount filled with lodging establishments and with more to come.

The structure, which is five stories high, is being built off Wellspring Drive, just north of the U.S. 64 and Winstead Avenue interchange.

The work site is off English Road, just west of the Highway Diner and between Candlewood Suites and the Country Inn and Suites by Radisson.

Jessie Nunery, spokesman for Rocky Mount's city government, told the Telegram that the information on file with municipal officials shows the future Fairfield is going to have 91 rooms.

Nunery said the information also shows that the future Fairfield is going to have a breakfast area to seat 27 people, a lobby area to seat 12 people, a conference room, a physical fitness area and an interior pool.

Attempts to obtain information from Marriott or the developer about the status of the project have been unsuccessful.

Barbara DeLollis, who handles public relations for development for Marriott, told the Telegram in an email she does not have details about individual projects that hotel developers may or may not be building.

Cecil Ratliffe, who identified himself as the building superintendent on site, told the Telegram that Ken Patel is the contact man for the project off Wellspring.

Ratliffe said he was trying to get hold of Patel, but the Telegram's attempts to locate Patel so far have been unsuccessful.

Jessica Johnson, who is one of the managers at the Highway Diner, is looking forward to the opening of the future Fairfield, saying, "I think it will bring us some more business."

News of the future Fairfield first appeared in the Telegram in December 2015, with the price estimated at approximately $3 million.

Plans appeared to have been to open the Fairfield in February 2017. The Telegram in February 2018 reported the startup had been pushed back to later that summer.

The information was that the opening had been one of 20 nationwide put on hold by Marriott because of transitions taking place at the company.

Fairfield in April proclaimed to have 1,000 properties worldwide.

The Fairfield by Marriott chain was inspired by the Marriott family’s weekend retreat, the Fairfield Farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

In the meantime, on the southeast side of the U.S. 64 and Winstead interchange, the city Planning Board recently approved a preliminary plan for an avid hotel, whose trademark starts with a small "a," is part of the British-based InterContinental Hotels Group.

The plan is for the avid for the Rocky Mount area to be at what was the Gateway Convention Center between Curtis Ellis Drive and Gateway Boulevard.

The plan calls for a 105-room hotel and for keeping the convention center part of the former Gateway Convention Center in place, but demolishing former retail spaces facing Curtis Ellis Drive.

Just yards down Gateway, crews are building a future Tru by Hilton.

The future avid and the future Tru by Hilton are going to join a DoubleTree by Hilton, a Comfort Inn, a Residence Inn by Marriott and a Courtyard by Marriott along Gateway Boulevard. A Holiday Inn is on the northeast side of the interchange.

The interchange is the first U.S. 64 exit for Rocky Mount east of Interstate 95 and also provides access to Nash UNC Health Care.

Nash County Travel and Tourism Executive Director Barbara Green told the Telegram that presently there are more than 2,100 guest rooms in the county.

Carolinas Gateway Partnership President and CEO Norris Tolson told the Telegram he believes the growth of lodging establishments on the northwest side of the city is a manifestation of development in the Rocky Mount area.

"Rocky Mount is being discovered," Tolson said. "And so people are coming here and will need a place to stay."

Tolson noted he advised a prospect that booking a room during this time of year is quite difficult because young people are using the Rocky Mount Sports Complex, which is just off the U.S. 64 and Church Street interchange.

He said he believes this is an indication Rocky Mount needs more hotel rooms and said he believes the trend toward constructing more hotels is going to continue.

At the Highway Diner, Johnson is not complaining about the presence of the hotels and the hotels to come.

"That's keeping us open and running — and seeing new faces," Johnson said with a smile. "So we're excited."