BLOWING ROCK — A 40-room, three-story hotel with self-contained parking and a full-service restaurant and bar is being proposed for a 0.905-acre tract of land in Blowing Rock, as first unveiled during a public meeting on March 6 at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.

The project, which is for the land between U.S. 221, Rainey Street and Morningside Drive in Blowing Rock, is currently named the Rainey Lodge, according to property owner Stephen Barker.

“In the town’s land use plan … we understand from talking to people in the community, there’s a demand for seasonal occupancy,” said Walter Fields of the Charlotte-based Walter Fields Group, who is consulting on the project. “There’s not really a hotel in town like this; has its own restaurant and bar, all of the parking is on site … it doesn’t overrun the site or overrun the neighbors.”

Barker is the president of Grand Dakota Development, a limited liability corporation that owns the three parcels of land which would be used for the project. The designs were put together by Overcash Demmitt Architects of Charlotte.

The application materials for a conditional use permit have been filed with the Blowing Rock Planning and Inspections department.

Fields said he hopes the project will go in front of the town’s planning commission on March 28, followed by town council. Hotels are a permitted use in Central Business, which is what the property is currently zoned as, meaning no zoning changes would need to be requested, according to Fields.

The Blowing Rock Planning Commission is a recommending body, where applicants seek a favorable vote and potential improvements on project details before going to town council, who have the final approval power.

So far, the planned project has no variance requests and Barker is hoping the project doesn’t have to request any.

“The plan is to submit a compliant project,” said Chelsea Garrett of di Santi, Watson, Capua, Wilson and Garrett law firm in Boone, which is representing Grand Dakota Development.

The project meets the town’s requirements for 75 percent of the open space to be green space, Fields said, and falls under the maximum-allowed height at any corner of the structure, as allowed. Renderings show the highest point from a building corner at 39 feet, 2 inches. Fields said the building is set back 59 feet from the road.

According to Barker, the process of developing the hotel idea took about eight months.

“If you look at the comprehensive plan of Blowing Rock … there’s a need for about 80 hotel rooms,” Barker said. “They see and already recognize the need.”

A model provided to the public had a blue-gray color on the exterior while the conceptual renderings had tan and brown colors. Barker said the colors are a work in progress.

“It’ll look like it was built years and years ago,” Fields said.

The planned 53 parking spaces would be enough for the rooms and restaurant, Fields said, and meet the town’s requirements.

“We’ve had some really good talks with the community today,” Barker said. “We’ll take some of their suggestions and (incorporate) them into the project.”

Barker said most of the public reception has been positive. One aspect of the project Barker said should be attractive to the community is that it has outdoor deck seating for its second-floor restaurant.

With elevation differences from the corners of the property, Barker said it’s an “extremely difficult” project, noting that one corner of the property, at the intersection of Rainey Street and Morningside Drive, is 20 feet higher than the property boundary with U.S. 221 just a few hundred feet away.

The project currently includes a tiered retaining wall facing U.S. 221 and will include sidewalks all the way around Morningside Drive and Rainey Street, Barker said. A parking lot exit onto Morningside Drive would be left turn only, Fields said, to keep guests from turning into the residential neighborhood.

The hotel proposal comes just more than a year after a 12-unit townhomes project was unanimously denied by the Blowing Rock Town Council, with council members saying the project was too dense and didn’t fit the character of the town. Fields said that as a hotel project, there is no density cap per acre such as the one that derailed the potential townhomes project.

Reporter

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