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Feb. 22--FORT MILL -- They're becoming as common as the subdivisions and the schools. And new hotels in eastern York County aren't expected to stop coming anytime soon.

Some people can't get enough of them.

"Any time a new hotel comes into our area, it's a great thing for the community," said Billy Dunlap, executive director for the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It creates jobs, but it also creates opportunity."

The latest developer looking for an opportunity is trying to rezone two properties on Isom Road, just off Pleasant Road, near Fort Mill. A rezoning is half way complete. The almost three-acre site will have access off Coltharp Road. The hotel would have 106 rooms.

Meanwhile, a TownePlace Suites by Marriott will bring another 120 rooms. The hotel will be across from Carowinds, right beside Cracker Barrel. Site work begins this fall.

Nearby, Springhill Suites Charlotte at Carowinds will be owned and managed by the amusement park. The five-story, 130-room hotel just across the state line should open by summer of next year.

A Comfort Inn and Suites is working through the planning process in Fort Mill. Diversified Enterprises, Inc. wants to put 95 rooms on almost three acres. The four-story hotel would be on River Crossing Drive off of Sutton Road.

Then there's the Game On project in Tega Cay, a sports megaplex plan on almost 80 acres at Stonecrest Boulevard and Dam Road. Part of that plan includes a 150-room hotel.

Hotels in the Fort Mill area aren't a new concept. What is new, is they aren't all centered around Carowinds.

Hampton Inn & Suites opened near in 2015, near Baxter, with 102 rooms. Last year Courtyard by Marriott and Holiday Inn Express & Suites opened in the Kingsley and Baxter areas. Areas where business is drawing as many overnight stays as the attractions.

"Hotels are all based on supply and demand," Dunlap said. "If the demand is there, then more hotels are going to come to the area. It's also driven by the corporate world as well."

Theron Pickens has decades of business experience in the Fort Mill area, and this year is chairman of the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce regional board. He sees hotels popping up and knows the local business climate is part of why.

"I think it's significant," Pickens said. "It's great to see that we're finally able to see some growth and interest in the business community, and not just on the residential side. With all these people coming here, you need a place for them to stay and to visit."

The move beyond just Carowinds is a strong indicator, Pickens said, for the area.

"When you start to get some of these larger corporations that come into the area like LPL Financial, Lash Group, Wells Fargo (in Charlotte), I mean all these are major businesses," he said. "It means a lot of people. Having them a place to stay is critically important."

There is an impact on small business, too. People coming in to work for a few days at Kingsley will have to eat somewhere. As will families coming in for major sports tournaments in Rock Hill or elsewhere in the county, which can overflow some into Fort Mill. A growing number of restaurants, a brewery and dessert spots in downtown Fort Mill could capitalize.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for the small business as well," Pickens said. "This is a tremendous stimulus."

Even in his events role, Dunlap understands how big business is for hotels.

"Their bread and butter are corporate stays during the week," he said. "That's how they make their money."

Still, hotels remain a big part of tourism.

"When we go out to recruit events, when we go out to recruit tournaments, anything that we do tourism-wise, we're always looking at hotel rooms," Dunlap said. "The more rooms we have, the bigger events that can make a larger impact on York County."

A sweet spot is a place like Carowinds, which amid the growing business climate in eastern York County and home to a major attraction, hits both.

"The Carowinds Boulevard area is such a corporate area as well, that gives them the ability to do well throughout the year," Dunlap said. "It's kind of a perfect fit, and that's what they look for."

There are 11 hotels now in the Fort Mill area, plus Indian Land. Well more than 1,000 rooms between them. Which doesn't include non-hotel options from Camp Wilderness at Carowinds and the Fort Mill KOA site to other camping options from the Anne Springs Close Greenway to Andrew Jackson State Park.

York County has 39 hotels. With a combined 3,472 rooms.

John Marks: 803-326-4315, @JohnFMTimes

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