Friday, September 16, 2016

Who really wants the new Griffith Street Hyatt Place hotel?

The long awaited application for the proposed Hyatt Place hotel next to the Community School of Davidson finally landed at Davidson Town Hall the last week of August and hasn’t taken long to raise eyebrows.

Per the application the owner of the property seeks “to amend the approved conditional planning area to allow a hotel with commercial, retail and restaurant uses”.  It also asks “to amend the height restriction from four stories to 68 feet.”  The application would make way for a hotel developed by Nish Patel of Beacon IMG – the same firm behind the Exit 30 Homewood Suites

An email to Patel seeking more details got this response.

“We are still in the middle of the process of working out the final details of hotel design with our architects and the Town of Davidson, so it would not be appropriate for me to comment on room size or height yet because those items may change”.

“I realize that any new development will be of interest to some of the residents in the area, but our company policy is to work through all of the appropriate design, safety and security issues before making any sort of public announcement.”

That may be the company policy, but an August email obtained via public records shows Patel told the town Planning Director the estimate was for 110-115 rooms.  Also, according to conversations with the Planning Director last week the discussions have been around a 6 story building including a rooftop restaurant as the 6th floor.  The amendment for 68 feet in the application would accommodate this.

As one can imagine, parents at the CSD elementary/middle school are not thrilled with the idea of a hotel next door just feet from the school.  Word has also circulated the Circles@30 Coalition neighborhood group will be taking a hard look at the project.  A Facebook group named “Citizens for a Safe Davidson Hotel Location” has also started and has about 200 members. (Transparency Alert: I’ve posted several times to this Facebook page as part of the discussion.)

It is safe to say opposition to this hotel site specifically - not another Exit 30 hotel - is brewing.  So, “who wants this site?” is the obvious question.

A public records document called “Project History” shows notes from an October 6, 2015 meeting between the property owner, the owner’s attorney, town staff, and Mayor John Woods.  Those notes mention staff providing “feedback from MSC and Davidson College that would support hotel on this site.”

The media contacts at both institutions were reached for verification.

Paul Mason who handles media relations for MSC, said MSC’s lead executive in Davidson, Doug Jones, “indicated he had a conversation with the mayor about the general need for more hotel rooms and meeting space in Davidson, but there was no mention of a specific site.”  When asked if MSC supported the proposed location Mason said “we generally do not take positions on city planning matters like these.”

Jay Pfeifer the media contact with Davidson College responded “as far as I can tell, Davidson College has not been involved in the proposed hotel at exit 30 in any way. Therefore, we can not comment on it.”

Joy Warner, CSD’s Executive Director, was also reached for comment to verify the school planned to stay out of the debate as indicated at a school meeting in late August.  Her response then was “the school takes no position on this particular issue.  As for the safety of our students, that is a more general issue that we spend time discussing every day no matter the potential source of the concern.  Fortunately, we have terrific allies in Davidson Police to keep our kids safe and they are always available when we ask for support and advice.  We consider and respond to what happens in and around our school daily.   That will not change.”

None of those are ringing endorsements of this site for a new hotel.  It seems the only institution that may want it there, other than the developers of course, may be the institution of Davidson Town Hall.

This post first appeared this week in the Herald Weekly at


  1. So, what would be an acceptable building adjacent to the school? A McDonalds? I never thought of a suburban Hyatt as a den of iniquity. Is something going on here?

  2. There have been multiple mixed use commercial/residential plans approved in the past that did not raise this level of attention for various reasons.

    Presumably, they would still be suitable.

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