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Chapel Hill works on Rosemary Street hotel plans

The new hotel was proposed for the area between 212, 214 and 220 W. Rosemary St. at a Community Design Commission meeting on Wednesday.

The hotel, which will be part of the AC Hotels line by Marriott, is planned to be four stories high and hold 123 rooms and underground parking.

John Coleman, real estate manager of OTO Development, the projects developer, said the hotel was expected to produce an additional $200,000 in property tax and give Chapel Hill visitors a lower price range than other downtown hotels.

The price per night would be around $145, compared to $189 offered by other downtown competitors like the Franklin Hotel, he said.

Bruce Collins, the regional director of development for the East for OTO Development, addressed concerns with the design.

Commission members expressed concern the hotel would not fit in with the Northside neighborhood, which it borders. The developers proposed heavy landscaping to buffer the neighborhood from the hotel.

John Gualtieri, the operations manager for La Residence restaurant and member of the Design Commission, said the hotel would not fit with the area’s atmosphere. La Residence and surrounding buildings are primarily one story.

“The one thing that is stifling us right now is just the scale of it,” Gualtieri said.

He also said he was worried that hotel guests on balconies could disrupt the fine dining or wedding receptions La Residence provides.

Commission members also raised questions about whether the drop-off site for vehicles would cause more traffic problems on Rosemary Street. The designers amended the plan to put the entrance on Church Street.

Collins added that OTO Development has tried to make their buildings fit in with the communities they are built in.

“They’re all site specific, location specific, from an interior and exterior perspective,” Collins said.

Laura Moore of the Community Design Commission said she felt the building could do more to bring life to Rosemary Street.

“You really missed the opportunity to vibrate Rosemary Street,” Moore said. “So I would ask you to take another look at that.”

Collins and Coleman were open to suggestions and said they were ready to hear what the community wanted to say.

“We didn’t want to come in with any preconceived notions and say, ‘Here’s the building design,’ and smack it down on the site,” said Collins.

Jason Hart, a member of the design commission, made it clear the plan would not be approved yet, and they would need to see more effort to cooperate with the community.

“I would like to see a little more context in your site plan with the neighborhoods around,” said Hart.

Hart also said he wanted to see three-dimensional plans to give the commission a better perspective on the building.

A tentative meeting for the Town Council to discuss the plan is scheduled for Oct. 20.

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