UNC Charlotte is hoping to expand again with a proposed hotel and conference center on campus next to the light rail stop on North Tryon. The project would be nestled at the corner of JW Clay Boulevard and North Tryon Street near the JW Clay light rail station. The university says the project would have a lot of benefits, including building its academic reputation by allowing the school to host large conferences.
Chancellor Philip Dubois spoke to the city council this week and says a hotel and conference center would give them the same amenities as larger research universities.
“This is a common feature at major research universities, whether it’s the Nittany Lion Inn at Penn State, the Black Well Inn at Ohio State, the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta or the new State View Hotel at NC State,” Dubois said.
The plan calls for a Marriott-branded hotel with 226 rooms and 24,000 square feet of conference space. Conferences, Dubois says, would allow the university to establish itself as a premier urban institute and would attract additional faculty to join the school's ranks.
The project is expected to cost $84 million. Most of that would be paid for by the UNC Charlotte Foundation. Marriott is also expected to pitch in $2 million. The university is also requesting $8 million from the city.
"This facility will serve as a new 'front door' to the University, providing a welcoming space for generations of 49ers and Charlotteans,” said Niles Sorensen, president of the UNC Charlotte Foundation, in a press release. “We’ve been planning this for a long time and are eager for it to bring new opportunities for our faculty and alumni to connect to the larger community."
Dubois’ vision for the project has implications for potentially larger conferences in the city.
“[The] potential symbiotic relationship with the hotel conference center and center city — including larger conventions and meetings that might be taking place downtown and that need additional room," Dubois said. "And in this context, think national political conventions.”
The Charlotte City Council is expected to make decisions on zoning and investment for the project by late August. If approved, construction would begin this January. The plan is to complete it by August 2020.