Local News

Downtown Durham to double hotel rooms

Posted August 29, 2008 5:29 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2008 8:39 a.m. EDT

— A new hotel hasn't been built in downtown Durham in almost two decades, but officials said the number of hotel rooms downtown is expected to almost double by the end of next year.

"Downtown is one of the last prime locations without what we call a pod of hotels," said Reyn Bowman, president and chief executive of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The last lodging to open downtown was the downtown Marriott in 1989 and a bed-and-breakfast in the ealry 1990s, Bowman said. Although the number of hotel rooms in Durham has increased 45 percent since then, none of that growth has occurred downtown, he said.

That should change next year, when at least 276 rooms are expected to open, including a Sheraton near the Durham Freeway and Duke Street; a Courtyard by Marriott off Main Street; and the King's Daughters Inn, a 17-room bed-and-breakfast.

"This really sort of fills a small part of that need" for downtown accommodations, said Colin Crossman, the owner of the King's Daughters Inn.

Almost 300 rooms are now located within a mile radius of Durham's center, and the new hotel rooms will return Durham to the same number of rooms near downtown that it had in the early 1970s – before downtowns nationwide started to lose popularity among visitors.

Bowman said that part of the reason for the sudden increase in downtown rooms is that people have started to realize Research Triangle Park is only four miles away. He also credited the success of revitalization efforts and entertainment in the area.

"It's the synergy of it all together," he said.

Crossman said opening his inn downtown is simply good business sense.

"We have a huge population of people coming into (Duke) University, coming into RTP, and now we have the massive resurgence downtown," he said.