At Monday night’s Mebane City Council meeting, the elected board approved an extension of the City’s corporate limits and a special use permit for DRPBS Hospitality to construct two hotels on approximately 7.12 acres at the end of Lowe’s Boulevard, adjacent to the I-40/I-85 freeway corridor.
The two hotels will add 160 new units to Mebane’s hotel infrastructure in the coming years.
“What you have before you is a request to have two hotels, both four stories in height with 80 units, and a 10,000 square foot mixture of retail and offices, in another building to the south of those two hotels,” Mebane Planning Director Cy Stober explained to the City Council prior to their vote. “This property is at the end of Lowe’s Boulevard. The property is already zoned B-2 (general business), and all the uses that would be permitted within the two hotel buildings and the mixed-use office building are uses that would be permitted on B-2 parcels.”
Stober added that the North Carolina Department of Transportation has current plans to expand the portion of N.C. Highway 119 adjacent to Lowe’s Boulevard, which will be the primary entrance and exit to the hotels, at least until a connection is made between Lowe’s Boulevard and Trollingwood-Hawfields Road.
“The scenario includes the state-funded transportation improvement project for the widening of 119. The intersection of Lowe’s Boulevard with 119 will include that widening project to accommodate increasing traffic volumes and flows,” Stober said. “The actual widening project is currently under discussion and negotiating with the NCDOT to address that very concern. The improvements should be fully implemented for the widening project - or well underway - by the end of 2020.”
Tim Smith of Summit Design and Engineering, who represented the developer at the City Council meeting, explained that the property on which the two hotels are to be constructed is located in Mebane’s secondary growth strategy area.
“It fits into the context of what that growth strategy area is intended for,” Smith said.
Smith indicated that the two four-story hotels would be built facing each other. The two hotels are projected to be a Wyndham Hotel Garden and a Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham - competing entities, but run by the same corporation. Construction is expected to begin on the first hotel with site work in the first quarter of 2020, with completion of both hotels likely sometime in 2021.
Smith added that the developer’s intent is to start with the Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham - the hotel on the western side of the property - and then construct the Wyndham Hotel Garden - the hotel to the east - in the second phase. Depending on the developer’s potential clients that they attract for their mixed use space, they could start the office/retail building in the same phase as the hotel on the east side of the property.
Both hotels will feature exterior stone veneer highlights, along with shingled roofing. Wyndham has approved Mebane as a site for these specific hotel locations. Along with Mebane City water and sewer, the site will include 5 foot sidewalks that will be tied in to other sidewalks throughout Mebane. In addition, bike racks will be provided onsite, along with ample parking for all three buildings to be constructed.
“They’re excited,” Smith said of Wyndham’s impending business relationship with Mebane.
Mebane’s Unified Development Ordinance requires a 20 feet landscaped buffer between a hotel and an existing business use, but the developer requested a waiver to make the landscaped buffer 10 feet, partially due to the fact that the northeastern corner of the hotel property abuts a neighboring property with a stormwater pond utilized by Lowe’s Hardware. The City Council approved this request.
“We’re going to be able to put some plantings along there (near the stormwater pond),” Smith explained. “But it’s not the full amount the UDO requires. There is some existing vegetation on the other side (of the property line).”
Although Smith didn’t have specifics regarding the total investment of DRPBS Hospitality in these two new hotels, the company is pumping several million dollars into Mebane’s tax base and tourism economy.
“It’s very significant, to build a hotel. Plus the infrastructure of the site,” Smith said.
City Council member Patti Philipps motioned to approve the two hotels, while Ed Hooks seconded. The motion was passed by a unanimous 5-0 vote.