Ayrsley to add newest in string of area hotels

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comFebruary 28, 2014 

— A $30 million investment in Steele Creek will bring more rooms and meeting space at what’s becoming a popular development strategy.

Ayrsley Hotel Associates III and Ayrsley Development Corp. last week announced a third hotel in the 185-acre Ayrsley, which is set to open in spring 2015. The Embassy Suites-Ayrsley will have 170 suites and more than 12,000 square feet of meeting space, including a grand ballroom to seat 500.

The site joins existing Hilton Garden Inn-Ayrsley and Homewood Suites-Ayrsley to bring the number of available rooms to more than 400.

“We have been very pleased with the performance of the other Hilton properties we have at Ayrsley, and we expect the Embassy Suites to build on that success while offering another level of service,” said Tom Henson, CEO of the development groups.

Ayrsley has more than a million square feet of office, commercial and residential space with zoning allowing for twice that much. It also has a movie theater and more than 1,000 homes and apartments.

The new hotel is needed, Henson said, because Steele Creek and York County lack full-service hotels “that can handle substantial meetings, corporate events, rehearsal dinners and elegant wedding receptions all at the same time.”

Other hotels are slated for the York County region. Last fall Warren Norman Co. announced it would put a six-story, 102-room Hampton Inn and Suites behind Lowe’s Home Improvement off S.C. 160 in Fort Mill. Last week Ralph Norman, company president, said to expect a second.

“We have contracted with a second hotel,” he said.

Norman didn’t name the company other than to say it’s a “national brand,” but did say the second site would be in Fort Mill town limits. It will have about 90 rooms.

“Fort Mill is a hotbed of activity,” Norman said. “And of course now it’s commercial, which pays the bills.”

Another Steele Creek project, Charlotte Premium Outlets at N.C. 160 and I-485, is under construction and had nearby property rezoned for a hotel. Then last week, The Herald reported Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols sees need for a downtown hotel there as “Main Street and downtown Rock Hill will become a destination.”

Echols also said there could be hotels needed along the Dave Lyle Boulevard corridor near the Rock Hill Galleria or in Riverwalk opposite the Catawba River from Fort Mill, according to The Herald.

Lisa Meadows, executive director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, sees a variety of area attractions contributing to the rise in hotels, along with special events for residents and guests.

“The growth of many of our tourism activities like meetings, reunions, corporate business, group tour, sports and leisure travel contribute to the demand for new hotels,” she said. “Recent announcements by Carowinds for expansion also aid in demand and supply which creates an opportunity for new hotels to break ground.”

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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