Hampton Inn coming to Black Mountain

Construction of 95-room hotel expected to be completed in fall of 2018

Fred McCormick

Visitors spending the night in Black Mountain will have a new lodging option in fall 2018 with the completion of a hotel on Black Mountain Avenue.

Site preparation is underway for a 95-room Hampton Inn at 306 Black Mountain Avenue, the former site of Polk Motor Company. The site changed hands last July.

Work has begun on a Hampton Inn on the former site of Polk Motor Co. The hotel should be ready by late next summer or fall, its owners say.
An artist's rendering of a four-floor Hampton Inn depicts what the Black Mountain hotel will look like when it's completed.

Braid Lail is a third-generation hotelier from Hickory, where his family opened Mull's Motel in 1958. The Holiday Inn Express that sits on the former site of his family's first hotel is one of nine properties Lail's family owns and operates, each with various partners.

"It's not just our family, there are other investors," he said. "Our strategy in the hotel business is to build, own and manage. That's not that common of a business model in the hotel industry. A lot of people will either manage or they'll build them and sell them. Several of our hotels have won national awards."

The group of investors building on the 4.2-acre lot at the southernmost end of Black Mountain Avenue has been interested in the area for years, Lail said.

"We looked at vacant land on (N.C.) 9 and looked at some redevelopment land along the interstate," he said. "But we're really excited to have the opportunity to build on the former Polk Motor site. It'll be visible from the interstate, which is important in the hotel business."

Lail and his partners are involved in nine properties representing three major hotel brands: InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International. The vast majority of of its clientele is corporate professionals,  according to Lail. The Black Mountain hotel proximity to downtown makes this one unique.

"We like that," he said of the access to the nearby central business district. "This hotel may be a little different than our other hotels. We think this one will have a much stronger mix of leisure."

The Hilton Hotels-owned Hampton Inn will also appeal to working professionals, he believes, because Black Mountain is "well-liked by both corporate and leisure travelers," he said.

The four-story, 55,000-square-feet hotel will have an indoor pool, a fitness center, a meeting room and onsite parking. The interior of the hotel will celebrate the influence of Black Mountain College.

"We try to give our hotels a real sense of place and make them feel like a part of the community they're in,"  Lail said.

The general contractor for the project is Charlotte-based Hendrick Construction, Inc. Lail, who anticipates a late summer or early fall/2018 opening, said the hotel will have an economic impact on the area.

"It's great to have the tax base and the jobs, although it's not a tremendous amount of jobs," he said. "The real economic impact is to get people staying in the community, eating at your restaurants, buying gas at your gas stations and shopping in your shops."