Southern Village hotel proposal gets warm reception

Sep. 16, 2013 @ 10:47 PM

A proposal to build a five-story hotel in Southern Village was greeted warmly Monday by residents and business owners of the mixed-use community during a public hearing Monday.
The Town Council also gave the project good marks after developer D.R. Bryan made his pitch for the project, which he believes will be a boon for restaurants and retail shops in Southern Village.
“I think it totally, economically supports Southern Village,” said Councilwoman Laurin Easthom. “I see the value in that.”
But even with all the kind words, Bryan said in an interview that he was still nervous about the project.
“I’m scared to death,” Bryan said. “We appreciate the input because we end up with a better hotel, listening to the comments and trying to refine what we’re doing.”
The council had questions about the “walkability” of the project from the hotel to the Southern Village core, its accessibility to people with disabilities and its impact on traffic.
The council will take up the project next at its Oct. 28 meeting.  
Bryan Properties wants to build a five-story, 112 room hotel on a 4.1-acres site at 1020-1100 U.S.15-501 between Market Street and Arlen Park Drive.
A future phase of the project would include an apartment building.
The redevelopment would involve the demolition of three homes on the site.
Parking for 90 vehicles would be provided at the hotel, although it would be surface parking instead of the underground parking proposed in a earlier version of the hotel.
Nearly all of the citizens who spoke at Monday’s public hearing endorsed the project, agreeing with the developer that it would help businesses in Southern Village.
Barbara Crane, a resident of Southern Village who works at IPAS, a nongovernmental organization that works to end preventable death and disabilities due to unsafe abortions, said she opposed the earlier version of the project but now has a change of heart because of the new location adjacent to U.S. 15-501 and a rebounding economy.  
The earlier proposal had the hotel on the site of an existing parking lot in the middle of Market Street.
“Since the difficult times in 2009 when I and others questioned whether there was really a market for another hotel, the environment has improved greatly,” Crane said.
While most citizens attending the meeting were supportive, one citizen sent an email message to the council critical of the timing of the meeting, which conflicted with an open house at Culbreth Middle School.
“Please take into account the poor timing of this public hearing (and the amount of opposition to the project you will not be hearing because of this ill timing) as you form your opinion on the project,” Joe Buonfiglio wrote. “This is not how to build consensus and harmony within a community looking to make critical decisions on how and where it should grow.”
In addition to asking the council to rezone the property from Residential 2 and Residential 5-Conditional to Mixed-Use Village, Bryan Properties wants the council to eliminate and modify some buffer requirements.