First Hampton Inn & Suites hotel opens in Chatham
By Ben Rappaport, Chatham News + Record Staff
Dirt has finally moved on to the first hotel project in Chatham County history.
Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Pittsboro Hampton Inn & Suites at Mosaic in Chatham Park marked a historic day as Chatham Park’s development continues: The 121-room hotel will be the latest addition to the development for use Mosaic at Chatham Park and marks the start of construction of the county’s long-awaited first hotel.
The more than $200 million Mosaic project will provide more than 200,000 square feet of retail, dining and housing to accompany the new hotel once construction is complete in the fall of next year.
Mosaic developer Kirk Bradley said bringing a Hampton Inn property to the county was about respecting a long-term vision of Chatham as a place to live, work and play.
“Having a hotel really makes a community,” Bradley said. “It’s one of those essentials and it’s hard to imagine an urban place like Pittsboro and Chatham not having a hotel. But now that he is here, he will really make a difference.
Shovels painted gold hit the ceremonial dirt pile Thursday morning at the site of the new Hampton Inn & Suites at 324 Freedom Parkway. The event brought together developers, local business leaders, and officials from Pittsboro and Chatham who were instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.
Rep. Robert Reives II (D-Dist. 54), one of the speakers at the event, spoke about Chatham Park’s journey from vision to today, and how for so long to sell the idea of growth of Chatham was not easy.
“It’s exciting because it wasn’t an easy bet 17 years ago,” Reives said. “A lot of people here now had a vision, a belief and a commitment to get us to where we are today.”
The Pittsboro Hampton Inn is being developed by Malcolm Bryant Corporation, a Kentucky-based real estate developer. This is the company’s fourth hotel property and the first in North Carolina; he’s also planning a second one near the PNC Arena in Raleigh.
Hotelier and founder Malcolm Bryant said he chose Pittsboro because of the people he met throughout the development process for an ongoing project in Raleigh and the community he saw growing. thrive in Chatham County.
“Relationships become more important than infrastructure and buildings,” Bryant told News+Record. “At some point, it’s not a matter of economics. I really believe they are trying to make people’s lives better.
Bryant said Pittsboro felt like the perfect fit for his business because of its similarity to his home in Ownesboro, Kentucky — another semi-rural town with potential for urbanization.
“Pittsboro looks like us,” Bryant said. “We understand, and it’s an honor to be in Chatham County with all that our history brings, and I think we have the opportunity to make 1 plus 1 equals 3.”
Bryant said despite running an international hotel brand, he hopes to bring a family atmosphere to the Hampton Inn by focusing on long-term employment and using guidance from the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention and Visitors Bureau. .
“When we decide to do something like this, we’re all in,” Bryant said. “Our children work for us; we don’t sell our hotels and I think that style is in the minority these days.
The groundbreaking at Chatham Park comes amid other development announcements across the county, including the $4 billion VinFast manufacturing plant at Triangle Innovation Point near Moncure announced March 29 and the 338,000 sq.ft. squares of FedEx. distribution center near New Hill, which will open early next year.
Karen Howard, chairwoman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, said she believes the growth of the area – which includes the Chatham Park project, which is expected to increase Pittsboro’s population by at least 50,000 over the course of of the next two decades – shows that Pittsboro is poised to become an epicenter of excitement.
“We wanted to support some of the development that was already happening downtown,” Howard said. “Chatham begged for a quality overnight option. Fortunately, a confluence of events, including developments and political will, has made this site a viable option for developers to come and make a difference here and really help develop the area.
Howard said she thinks having a reputable brand like Hampton Inn for people to stay overnight helps make Pittsboro an attractive place for families to visit and explore.
Overnight options for Chatham County visitors currently include motels, bed and breakfasts, and other short-term rental options like AirBnb or VRBO. One of Chatham Park’s developers, Tim Smith, said on Thursday he thinks all of these options are important for the growth of the local economy, but a formal hotel also provides conference space and other amenities for companies.
“This thing is going to be full day one,” Smith said. “Giving people the option to stay here in a hotel is going to start bringing in more people from Chapel Hill, Sanford, Apex, etc.”
Smith’s development partner, Bubba Rawls, said the hotel also helps the local tax base by giving people options to go to other local places they might not otherwise be able to visit.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving in so many ways,” Rawls said.
The hotel will have an entertainment bar, conference rooms and outdoor terraces. Bryant said a unique feature of the Hampton Inn is that it will incorporate local art through an artist-in-residence program.
“We want to push people into the community,” Bryant said. “People will visit this hotel before going anywhere else in the county and will want to be the intro.”
Bryant said if construction goes according to plan, the Pittsboro Hampton Inn should be open by fall 2023.
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