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 Uncertainty of Adam's Mark hotel in Charlotte Creates Concern for
Hundreds of Hotel Workers and Dozens of Groups with Bookings

By Leigh Dyer, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

Wed, Dec. 07, 2005 - Uncertainty hangs over hundreds of workers and dozens of groups whose fortunes are tied to the Adam's Mark hotel in uptown Charlotte. And the fallout could hurt the city-owned Charlotte Convention Center, at least temporarily.

The city's visitors bureau is working with at least 63 groups with bookings at the Adam's Mark, including guests for February's CIAA basketball tournament, who need other accommodations because of the hotel's uncertain future. And the Adam's Mark's 250 employees are looking for jobs.

Last summer, The Chetrit Group LLC bought the 613-room hotel and the neighboring Cameron Brown Building with plans to redevelop the properties. It has never publicly disclosed specific plans for the hotel. About a month ago, Adam's Mark managers told employees their jobs would officially end Dec. 23.

The hotel may stay at least partially open while being redeveloped, city officials say, and some employees and groups may be able to remain. But in the absence of an announcement from the owners, the groups and employees have been forced to begin alternate plans.
"We do not have the information we need to plan accordingly," said Mike Butts, who heads Visit Charlotte. "The uncertainty makes it difficult to know what to tell meeting planners."

Among the disrupted events is the CIAA, a competition among historically black colleges that rivals the ACC men's basketball tournament in attendance and economic impact.

And the city is in danger of losing a 2007 convention with 4,000 attendees because of the uncertainty, Butts added, while declining to name the group. Another large 2007 convention, the Elks, also considered canceling but officials persuaded them to stay by offering alternate hotel rooms, Butts said.

Originally, local officials expected The Chetrit Group to announce its hotel plans by Thanksgiving. Officials in the company's New York office did not return calls this week.

The situation is a potential setback for the city's convention and visitors business, which has been on an upswing since the opening of the Westin hotel uptown in spring 2003. Convention bookings have rebounded past pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels, and the region's occupancy rates and room revenues are improving.

The presence of the Westin next to the convention center has enabled the city to go after bigger convention groups. "We're now a greater convention city than we ever were before," said Assistant City Manager Ron Kimble.

The city paid $16 million toward meeting rooms and parking spaces at the $143 million Westin, a 700-room project.

At the time of its opening, managers of other hotels, including the Adam's Mark, complained it might cannibalize their business. Several city officials this week said the Adam's Mark's sale was not necessarily tied to competition from the Westin. The Adam's Mark had been on the market for about two years.

Employees at the Adam's Mark declined to comment this week. Mohammad Jenatian, president of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, said demand for hotel and banquet employees is high in the area, and Adam's Mark employees shouldn't have a problem finding other jobs.

He also noted that if the Adam's Mark closes, it will drive up occupancy rates and average room revenues. That's because there will be fewer rooms in the uptown market, creating higher demand for those that remain. And if it reopens as a higher-end property, it will contribute to a higher room-rate average.

"Timing is working in everybody's favor," he said. "This is actually an opportunity, not a challenge." -- Staff writer Richard Rubin contributed.

Charlotte-Area Visitor Business

  • Hotel occupancy as of September: 60.5 percent (higher than state average). Hotel occupancy increase, year to date over last year: 9.4 percent.
  • Revenue increase per room, year to date over last year: 12.6 percent.
Hotel Bookings

Charlotte visitor bookings by fiscal year 
Fiscal 2001: 145,714 nights in hotel rooms.
Fiscal 2002: 120,997.
Fiscal 2003: 97,666 (year Westin opened).
Fiscal 2004: 127,528.
Fiscal 2005: 162,079.

SOURCE: Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority

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