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The Olympia Companies to Build a 130-room Hilton
Garden Inn Hotel in Durham, North Carolina

By Laura Oleniacz, The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 10, 2011--DURHAM -- A developer based in Portland, Maine, is planning to start construction this year on a new Hilton Garden Inn hotel near Ninth Street.

The six-story, 130-room Hilton Garden Inn is planned for approximately 2 acres at 2200 W. Main St., near another planned development project for the Ninth Street area -- a multifamily apartment complex, Erwin Square Multi-Family.

The development arm of the company behind the hotel project, The Olympia Companies, intends to begin construction on the hotel this spring, according to the website

In 2008, the site plan for the new hotel was approved by the Durham Development Review Board, but the building permit that would allow construction to begin had not been issued by Durham City-County Inspections as of Monday. Several calls made to the company for comment on the project were not returned.

Brett Walters, president of the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association, said the developers came to the association several years ago with the plans for the hotel.

Walters said the association supports the project, which he said would serve the neighborhood as well as Duke University. He said the hotel would also generate foot traffic for Ninth Street businesses.

"They had the right sense of mind to respect the Ninth Street (Design) District and the historical nature of the area," Walters said. "The plans are meant to echo the Erwin Mill, and also be complementary to Erwin Square, a newer development."

The proposed hotel is one of several that are in the pipeline for Durham. There are also plans for a 133,950-square-foot hotel near Duke University's East Campus at 1108 W. Main St. The project plans have been submitted to Durham City-County Planning.

The site plan for the new, 146-room hotel was approved in 2006, although there is another plan for an extended stay hotel at the same site that's going through the review process with the department.

Despite the plans for the two new hotels in Durham, Jan Freitag, vice president for the Hendersonville, Tenn.-based Smith Travel Research, which produces data on the hotel industry, said Durham's occupancy growth rate for the first quarter of 2011 at 4.6 percent is lower than the nation's 5.7 percent.

The occupancy rate for Durham, at 59.5 percent through March, was above the nation's at 54.9 percent, while the raw number of rooms sold year over year for the area kept pace with the nation's rate of sale.

In Durham, there were 6.6 percent more rooms sold in the period in the year, while in the nation, there were 6.7 percent more rooms sold. Freitag said that's not a good or bad sign, "that just is."

The number of available rooms in the area, according to the STR data, increased by 1.8 percent in the period, which he said is not is not a sign of major growth.

"There are always more hotels being constructed. The question is at what pace," he said. "Right now, there is very little new construction. ... This is a slow time for financing new hotels. We're seeing very little new construction -- and for your market as well."


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Copyright (c) 2011, The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.

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