A Marriott-branded hotel will be constructed at what is currently a vacant lot at 116 East Main Street in Lexington, which is in the heart of downtown.Photo by Christina Trainor
A new 90-100 room hotel is set to be constructed at 116 East Main St. in the middle of downtown Lexington.
Hotelier Raj Champaneri, of Lexington Hospitality, told Free Times on Monday afternoon that his group closed on the purchase of the property late last week.
"We're going to put in a Marriott-branded property there," Champaneri says. "Like many downtowns, Lexington's has been revitalized. ... What better than to have a hotel right in downtown?"
The hotelier says he anticipates the Lexington hotel would open in 18 to 24 months. He did not say which of Marriott's brands the hotel would eventually carry.
The Champaneri family and Lexington Hospitality have a number of hotel properties in the Midlands, including the Aloft Hotel in the Vista, which opened in 2017.
The spot where the new hotel will be built currently is a vacant lot. The lot is bordered on one side by Bodhi, an upscale Thai restaurant, and on the other by a series of storefronts, including craft beer joint Keg Cowboy.
Years ago the lot once housed Sessions department store.
The hotel would have 90 to 100 rooms, Champaneri says, and conference rooms and gathering spaces.
As Champaneri notes, the face of downtown Lexington has been changing rapidly in recent years. Streetscape work has upgraded the physical face of Main Street, and the opening of the publicly funded Icehouse Amphitheater in late 2016 has kept a steady stream of people flowing into the town center for concerts and other events. New restaurants are popping up on Main — Alodia's Cucina Italiana and O'Hara's Public House have opened this year — and craft beer spots, like the aforementioned Keg Cowboy and, just down the road, Old Mill Brewpub, continue to draw in Lexington residents, and visitors from across the river in Columbia.
Champaneri says he thinks a new hotel will solidly complement all of the activity that is taking place in the center of Lexington.
"We have heard nothing but positive feedback, from the city and everyone we talk to," he says. "It seems to be something everyone's looking forward to."
Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall told Free Times the hotel project will be historic.
"It will change Lexington forever, in a very good way," MacDougall says. "We've been after plans to develop that piece of property for years. To have this group step forward and say they want to put a hotel there is just amazing."
Announcement of a new Marriott-branded facility comes at a time in which Lexington continues to see steady population growth.
According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, Lexington County had a population of about 169,000 in 1990. That jumped to 263,000 by 2010. Now, the bureau estimates about 286,000 people live in the county.
All that countywide growth has surrounded and engulfed the Town of Lexington, and the municipality has seen its own ranks grow. The town had a population of just 4,210 in 1990. By 2010 that had inflated to 18,522, and the most recent Census estimates put the town’s population at 21,000.
Officials at the Greater Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center said they do not keep statistics on the total number of estimated visitors Lexington receives each year.
MacDougall says any conference or meeting space at the coming East Main Street hotel will be welcomed.
"We have a conference room in Town Hall and it stays booked up year around," the mayor says. "So, yeah, meeting space is a big deal downtown."
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