TDA discusses old Spencer’s lot

By Eva Queen - [email protected]

Steve Powell presents feasibility study to Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority, during a meeting held on Thursday.

Eva Queen | The News

The old Spencer’s property, located behind the Renfro lofts has the potential for a new hotel and convention center.

The Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority hired a professional destination consultant, Steve Powell. As well as a travel/tourism research, marketing, management and retail experience planner Berkeley Young.

Since June, Powell and the board has been working closely to gather information to put together a study composed of 2 parts.

The first being feasibility and the second being a vision plan.

Powell said, “I believe that the idea is realistic and can be easily reached, with a sales/marketing team in place.”

Powell and Berekley were hired to do the feasibility study as an attraction to developers to come in and buy the property. Powell, in describing Mount Airy said, the city has a attractive downtown, and is authentic mountain town with unique special events.

During the presentation, Powell pointed out that there are low amenities to accommodate the type of people who would be attracted to a hotel/convention center. The lack of amenities included fine or upscale dining experiences and night life. “Most meetings or events don’t end until after 5 p.m., and that’s when all your businesses around this area shut down” said Powell.

A dynamic strategy plan and mature brand strategy transition were two essential things Powell pointed out, that needed to happen.

Essentially, Mount Airy is within 2 hours of larger cities with much greater amenities to suffice event planners.

Those event planners are looking for things to do after their meetings — places to go and explore and have fun while in a new city, Powell asked the board “Why in the hell would anyone want to come to Mount Airy?”

He asked in his alluding to telling the board and attendees of the meeting that Mount Airy as a whole really needs to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to attracting such a large scale facility.

“What do you have to offer that Raleigh or Winston-Salem does not?”

While it may be that Mount Airy, doesn’t offer a large airport or night life — the city is close enough that people will be willing to drive here to get a new experience, rather than the same big city vibe most of the planners are used to.

The only direct competition to this hotel/convention center would be in Winston-Salem, The Graylyn Estate.

Powell and Berekely sent out surveys to 60 event planners, where they gathered information on what they sought after when booking an event.

62 percent of the surveyors said they were very likely/extremely likely to hold future meetings in Mount Airy.

The planners perception of Mount Airy received higher ratings for attractions such as shopping and restaurants. However, afternoon entertainment, quality of venues and accessibility to and from their hotel to these attractions were voted lowest.

Lodging Revenue has steadily increased since 2009. In the revenue increased from $7.6 million dollars to $11.5 million, in 2014. “This shows a great opportunity and a wide-open market, if this hotel doesn’t happen, others are going to looking to come in,” said Powell

In order for the potentially $17 million dollar project to be successful and create a $2 million dollar revenue a year, the follow percentages of events would need to be held:

23% Banquets or 71 events

17% Special Events or 27 events

15% Trade Shows or 17 events

24% Conventions or 19 events

15% Consumer Shows or 24 events

25% Meetings or 152 events

The profile of the facility would consist of 51-100 hotel rooms, theatre seating to accommodate up to 200 people, classroom seating for 200, banquet room for 200, pre-function space for 200, exhibit space for 100, 1-4 meeting rooms. The overall meeting facility would approximately end up at 42,914 square feet.

The only business that would be affected according to the study are the event venues.

“Overall, I think this would be a great place to hold this kind of business, and a great opportunity for Mount Airy,” Powell said.

Steve Powell presents feasibility study to Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority, during a meeting held on Thursday. Powell presents feasibility study to Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority, during a meeting held on Thursday. Eva Queen | The News

By Eva Queen

[email protected]

Reach Eva Queen (336) 415-4739 or [email protected]

Reach Eva Queen (336) 415-4739 or [email protected]

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