CHAPEL HILL- A plan for a new hotel on East Franklin Street met with opposition from residents and the Chapel Hill Town Council last week
Anthony Carey is the general manager at the Siena Hotel on the corner of East Franklin and Estes Drive. He told the Council he’s skeptical about a plan to build a new upscale hotel less than half a mile down the road.
“We currently do not have an urgent need for hotel rooms,” said Carey. “Between July 1 of last year and December 31, how many times was the Aloft, Siena, Sheraton, Franklin, Carolina Inn, Residence Inn and Courtyard sold out harmoniously? Zero.”
The concept was introduced to the Town Council at a public hearing last week. No formal plan has been submitted to the town, but developers heard an earful from neighbors critical of their proposal to build a five-story, 110-room hotel on less than two acres along East Franklin Street.
Dr. Terry Vance runs a psychotherapy practice across the street from the site. She said a new hotel would pose a threat to her business.
“The increased traffic and the noise of building a hotel would make our practice impossible,” said Vance. “We depend on listening, quiet and privacy.”
Residents in the nearby Coker Hills neighborhood also voiced concerns about noise, light pollution and traffic.
When the time came for the Council to offer feedback, members were similarly unimpressed. Lee Storrow told developers he was not excited about the plan.
“We have an approved hotel in the southern part of town that’s likely to break ground very soon, we have approved a rough concept that would, in the future, lead to a hotel across from Carolina North, and there’s discussions about ones in Ephesus-Fordham,” said Storrow. “So I don’t think this concept make sense at this space. I think we’re just moving around people who are in other hotels and I don’t think that has the benefit of expanding our market or tax base the way we want it to.”
Developers must now decide whether to formally apply for a rezoning and special use permit, or shelve the hotel plan in favor of a new idea.