Chapel Hill News

Chapel Hill council approves 4-story hotel for West Rosemary Street

An artist’s rendering shows the front of the planned AC Hotel by Marriott, as seen from the corner of Church and West Rosemary streets in downtown Chapel Hill, NC.
An artist’s rendering shows the front of the planned AC Hotel by Marriott, as seen from the corner of Church and West Rosemary streets in downtown Chapel Hill, NC. Contributed

A four-story AC Hotel by Marriott approved for downtown last week will replace three existing businesses at the corner of Church and West Rosemary streets.

The 123-room hotel will feature local artists and a community mural being planned with help from its Northside neighbors, said Dennis Mitchell, with OTO Development. A prominent fire pit at the corner of Church and Rosemary streets “will engage the pedestrians and the local citizenry.”

The hotel bar will be open to the public and offer tapas, he said.

“It’s meant to be a location where you might meet somebody, have something light to eat, perhaps a drink, and then go out into town,” Mitchell said.

It will be tough to endure another downtown construction project, said Frances Gaultieri, whose La Residence restaurant struggled when 140 West was being built across the street. But she expects the hotel to be a good neighbor, she said.

“I’m hoping that with the ability of my special event guests to stay right next door to my restaurant and garden, that my sales will increase between a third and two-thirds of what it currently is, because I have that capacity, but I don’t have places for people to stay that are close,” Gaultieri said.

The 0.79-acre site was identified in the town’s Rosemary Imagined draft plans as a future redevelopment site. The hotel could generate about $270,000 a year in town revenues and cost about $78,000 in town services.

OTO Development also agreed to pay the town $10,000 if the hotel isn’t built before Rosemary Street is repaved and restriped to add bike lanes next year, said Gene Poveromo, the town’s development manager. The money will be used to repair any damage from the construction, he said.

Drivers will access the hotel and and a 111-space underground parking lot from Church Street. Signs and an extended curb will encourage drivers exiting the parking lot to turn left, away from the neighborhood.

“I suspect over the time the hotel staff will learn that and they will probably advise people not to make a left-hand turn, because you’re going to get lost in the neighborhood, and it’s going to take you too long to get out,” Poveromo said.

The original plan was modified to fit the neighborhood, with the hotel rising to 30 feet on the side near homes and 50 feet closer to Rosemary Street.

It includes a central, ground-level pool, meeting space and energy-efficient features, including a green roof to help with stormwater runoff. The design should reduce noise from mechanical equipment, project officials said, while smaller trucks will provide trash and recycling services.

“I think this is a model for the kind of scale we really want on the north side of Rosemary,” Councilman Ed Harrison said.

Project officials also are working with the N.C. Department of Commerce and local agencies, Empowerment Inc. and the Jackson Center, to hire local workers. Delores Bailey, Empowerment’s executive director, said they will help keep neighbors updated, host job fairs and ensure workers earn a living wage.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb