When the $221 million Raleigh Convention Center opens this fall, its capacity will be for groups of up to 5,000 people. There’s one hitch. There may be a housing shortage. Demand for downtown hotel rooms is at an eight-year high, but increased borrowing costs have delayed hotel openings, affecting 500 planned rooms.
More than 70 events have reserved space at the convention center in anticipation of its opening. For mid-sized groups, such as the 3,500-person North Carolina Community College System convention, a transportation system can shuttle attendees from suburban hotels to the convention center. Raleigh currently has 550 hotel rooms downtown. An additional 400 rooms will become available when the Raleigh Marriott City Center opens this summer. Before it can comfortably accommodate mid-sized groups, Raleigh will need an additional 600 rooms within walking distance of the center. As a result, the convention sales team has shifted its focus from selling mid-sized groups to concentrating on the small meetings market.
Delayed hotel projects include The Hillsborough, a 136-room boutique hotel with 26 condominiums; The Lafayette, a 22-story, 200-room condo-hotel, scheduled to open in May 2010; and a condo-development on Hillsborough and Harrington streets featuring an 80-room Aloft hotel and a 120-room Hampton Inn.
Source: The News & Observer