|By Dudley Price and Jack Hagel, The News
& Observer, Raleigh, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Apr. 9, 2008 - RALEIGH -- A Pittsburgh company wants to build a 123-room Hyatt hotel near the RBC Center, where an emerging office market is adding demand in an area that once was the exclusive destination of sports fans.
Oxford Development filed plans with the city for a Hyatt Summerfield Suites on 5.8 acres at Trinity and Nowell roads. It would fill an increasing need for hotel rooms for visitors attending events at the RBC Center and Carter-Finley Stadium, as well as those on business trips related to office development in the area.
The site is about a half-mile from the RBC Center, where the Carolina Hurricanes and N.C. State University basketball teams play their home games. The only other hotels nearby are a 123-room Comfort Suites just south of the RBC Center and an 82-room Ramada Inn on Blue Ridge Road. Plans for a fourth hotel, also on Nowell Road, are moving forward as well.
"They can certainly package rooms for hockey events and [other] arena events," Loren Gold, executive vice president of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, said of the planned Hyatt. "More rooms is a good thing.
"When we put a nonsporting event in the arena -- a big meeting activity -- they take rooms all over the area: Cary, downtown, pretty much all over the county," Gold said.
The Hyatt will be a limited service brand, offering free breakfasts for guests and a 24-hour market. Plans show a 1,100-square- foot meeting room, dining area, indoor pool, fitness room and 216 parking spaces.
West Raleigh has become a target for hotel and apartment developers. At least 1 million square feet of offices have sprouted in the area since 2002. Companies seeking a central location and convenient road network have moved in, dropping the submarket's office vacancy rate to 8.3 percent from 15.2 percent in four years, according to data from Karnes Research of Raleigh.
The epicenter of new development is in an area off Trinity Road at Nowell and Edwards Mill roads.
In 2006, developers announced plans for about 150,000 square feet of shops and restaurants as part of Wade, a mixed-use development along Edwards Mill Road across from the RBC Center.
That project, developed by a group that includes Post Properties of Atlanta, Lincoln Harris of Charlotte, Lichtin Corp. of Raleigh and Preston Development of Cary, also is to include up to half a million square feet of offices and as many as 1,500 homes, including hundreds of apartments.
In December, Fairfield Residential of Grand Prairie, Texas, bought 25 undeveloped acres, with plans to build apartments between Nowell Road and Corporate Center Drive.
In January, a Georgia developer bought four acres just south of the Fairfield site, with plans to build a hotel.
Oxford Development of Pittsburgh says it is Pennsylvania's biggest private real estate services company, overseeing about $1 billion of commercial real estate ventures. The company develops, leases, owns and brokers commercial property around the country.
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