The Challenge

Develop a select service franchise hotel during the toughest recession in decades. Olympia worked to develop this site from 2007 until the hotel opening in 2014. During the economic downturn, Olympia secured its rights to the land while taking the opportunity to drive efficiency from the building design by shrinking the ground floor program and moving the laundry facilities to the 2nd floor.


Olympia worked with the local community and the abutting property owners to create a building façade that was appropriate for the well-established Ninth Street neighborhood. The building was orientated so that street visibility of the existing Erwin Square office tower was maintained and so that a buffer was created between the busy W Main Street and neighboring railroad and the hotel. Leveraging its strong relationship with Hilton Hotels, Olympia designed a hotel that felt contextual to its historic local environment, yet met the demands franchise design and construction standards.


The Hilton Garden Inn Durham University / Medical Center combines the aesthetic of historical Durham warehouse architecture with the modern functionality of the Hilton Garden Inn brand design. The constrained site prevented the construction of a prototypical Hilton Garden Inn with separate single story pavilion in front of the guestroom tower. Also, the exterior design aesthetic of the prototype HGI brand was not a good fit for the Ninth St corridor and surrounding neighborhood.

Olympia wanted the hotel to feel like an established part of the neighborhood, rather than a recent addition. Working with our neighbors and local business leaders, we designed a building that combined the classic red brick façade and linear building massing found in warehouses and other historic structures throughout the Raleigh / Durham area with touches of modernity, for example in the architectural louvers with integrated downlights and sleek fenestration of the guestroom windows. From a design standpoint, the building forms a bridge between the historic Mill Building to the east and the contemporary Erwin Square Office tower to the west and sits confidently alongside both properties.

Sustainability & Purchasing


This project was designed and constructed to exacting LEED standards. Examples of sustainable design at this hotel include:

  • High efficient Vertical Packaged Terminal Air Conditioning units for the guestrooms.
  • Stormwater treatment on site.
  • Bicycle storage and shower facilities.
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures.


Olympia managed the specification, procurement and installation process for all FF&E and Owner Direct purchases. Olympia worked with the General Contractor and the City of Durham to ensure that Guestroom FF&E could be installed by floor towards the end of the construction process in order to minimize the time period between construction completion and hotel opening.

Servicing Duke University and Duke Medical Center

Olympia converted this ideal site into a 128-room hotel project that would be the top choice for visitors to Duke University and Duke Medical Center.  Walking distance to 9th Street and bordering campus, Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center developed a top market position within 90 days of opening.

The hotel was built to LEED Silver standards and has achieved the highest rating for environmental focus (three dogwood blossoms) by the NC Green Travel program developed by the North Carolina Department of Environment & Natural Resources.

Ranked Top 10 for Guest Service & Loyalty

The operating team ‘special care’ of patients and other service endeavors has led to a consistent placement in the Top 10 hotels for guest service and loyalty in the HGI brand, as well as the top rank in Trip Advisor (1 of 67 hotels).

Hilton Garden Inn Durham/University Medical Center is the second hotel developed with Olympia’s strategic partner, SMART Hotels Group.

A Unique Opportunity

The Olympia Companies is devoted to pursuing opportunities in the hospitality industry. We strive to leverage the commitment, strength, and intellect of our team members to explore and develop assets as well as prospects.

In addition to our Management, Design, and Development services, we posess expertise in developing Restaurants, Property Branding, as well as Acquisitions.