The UNC Charlotte Foundation has taken a significant step in the expansion of the university.
A plan approved and funded by the UNC Charlotte Foundation has been released detailing a 226-room, full-service Marriott hotel with a three-meal full-service restaurant and a 15,000-square-foot conference center. A terraced pedestrian plaza links the light rail bridge on Tryon to the Charlotte Research Institute campus. A campus bus stop would provide access to the rest of campus.
The hotel will serve as a “home” for visiting alumni who may be in Charlotte for university business or otherwise. Over time, the goal is for the hotel to become an important alumni engagement opportunity.
Niles Sorensen, president of the UNC Charlotte Foundation, believes the project is vital to the growth of the university community.
“We believe an on-campus hotel will offer an important amenity to the campus — drawing parents and families for move-in days, commencements, family days and other campus events, serving as a gathering place for out-of-town alumni who visit campus, particularly on football weekends and again, thanks to the light rail linkage, the hotel will draw a diverse set of visitors to Charlotte who will have the chance to experience our campus,” he said.
The project is privately funded by the foundation.
Sorensen also commented on the Chancellor’s role and stance on the project stating “the accomplishment of the project is among the chancellor’s priorities.”
The project will bring the university up to par with the other major research universities in the state, such as UNC Chapel Hill, NC State and Duke, which all have similar on-campus facilities.
The project also will fix a long-term problem for the university. UNC Charlotte is currently restricted in the number and size of academic conferences they can host, because of the lack of conference facilities near the campus. The 15,000-square-foot conference center that is included in the plans would allow UNC Charlotte to host a number of conferences in the coming years.
The newly-opened light rail station directly across the street from the proposed site, which creates a convenient linkage to the center city, helped fuel this project. The foundation believes this project overall can be an important opportunity and way for our faculty and alumni to connect the larger community for executive education, certification courses and campus events.
The hotel will house a three-meal restaurant which will include outdoor seating, both activating the corner of J. W. Clay and Tryon and providing a university destination for Charlotte residents and visitors on the light rail line.
Some students are opposing the creation of a hotel and requesting money go to academic or parking projects.
“Again, it is important to note that this is a project that is privately funded by the University-affiliated Foundation, and not by the University or the State of North Carolina,” Sorensen said. “Academic buildings have, in every case, I think, been funded by the State of North Carolina through either appropriated dollars or bond proceeds that are state, not campus, obligations. Parking is a service funded by the parking fees that faculty, staff and students pay.”
The Charlotte City Council will hear more about the project in the coming months and will be crucial in approving the project for construction.