by Sarah JF Braley | January 30, 2020

The city of Raleigh, N.C., has released a request for information from potential developers for an upper-upscale, full-service convention hotel with at least 500 rooms, as well as a separate mixed-use building on two city-owned vacant lots in the heart of downtown. The one-acre sites are across from the Raleigh Convention Center and Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

"This is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a convention hotel and separate office/mixed-use tower on two prime vacant lots in downtown Raleigh," said city manager Jim Greene. "Innovation, quality design and construction, and sustainability are important values to the city for this transformational project."

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin added: "I want to emphasize we're looking for great design. People are coming from all over the world, so let's make it all it can be."

The new convention hotel would serve the Raleigh Convention Center and its 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 32,600-square-foot ballroom and 20 meeting rooms. The city hopes the property would be built while major interior upgrades take place at the center this year and next. Currently, the facility is serviced by the 400-room Raleigh Marriott City Center, 353-room Sheraton Raleigh Hotel and the 175-room Residence Inn Raleigh Downtown.

"We are delighted to soon be able to offer an additional 500+rooms to Raleigh's hotel package," said Kerry Painter, CFE, CEM, CMP, director and general manager of the RCC. "These rooms will change the face of Raleigh's convention possibilities and bring a new look to our city and an engaging, vibrant experience for our clients and their attendees."

Two feasibility studies confirmed the city's need for a 400+ room, full-service convention hotel. The first was done by HVS Convention Sports and Entertainment Consulting in 2015 and the second in 2018 by Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate services firm that is handling the RFIs. JLL's recommendation was part of a comprehensive, strategic tourism master plan developed for all of Wake County, now referred to as the Destination 2028 Plan.

"The Destination 2028 Plan validated the need for this project and our research shows 80 percent of planners prefer upscale or upper-midscale, full-service hotels adjacent to or within walking distance of a convention center," said Dennis Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. "We applaud the foresight and vision shown by the City of Raleigh in issuing this RFI and are fully supportive of the efforts to secure this much-needed demand-driver for our meeting and convention market."