The market for commercial and residential real estate development is generally lousy nationwide right now. Still, somehow, there's significant continued interest in hotel development around the Bull City's core.
Of course, that shouldn't necessarily be surprising, given that downtown is relatively underserved by hotels. Downtown Durham features just the Marriott, while the I-85 corridor has a Hilton and three chain hotels (Holiday Inn Express, Courtyard by Marriott, and Comfort Inn) along with a number of less pricey options. Add in the Old North Durham, Morehead Manor, and Blooming Garden Inn B&Bs and you've got the most popular overnight options for Durham in a nutshell.
Given the drawing power of Duke and the growing interest in downtown -- not to mention this little performing arts center on the verge of opening -- a concomitant growth in lodging projects shouldn't be much of surprise. Here's updates (of what we know, at least) on four such Bull City projects in the works.
First off, and one we've covered in some depth here before, is the Kings Daughters Inn B&B, set to open at the corner of Gloria and Buchanan in southwest Trinity Park in 2009. Owners Colin and Deanna Crossman are mere inches and days away from closing on the historic old-age home and Durham institution; interior demolition and abatement work are set to begin on July 1, so expect to see work crews getting active there very soon.
The dormitory-style accomodations will be converted to slightly more spacious rooms, including many two-room suites. The Crossmans hope to have the property open in time for next spring's college graduation season.
Just to the south of the KDI sits the McPherson Hospital project, a Concord Hospitality effort set to become another Courtyard by Marriott through a mix of renovation to the old structure and new construction. Concord has been quiet on the project in recent weeks, though construction fencing is up on the lot and crews were on-site today. As noted in The Durham News recently, Concord's been under the gun to kick-off construction so as to not allow the two-year window on their site plan approval to run out. We'll bring more updates on this project as we have them.
Another chain eyeing a space a little further west on W. Main St. is Hilton Garden Inn, slated to be developed along the street between the Wachovia tower and the old Erwin Mills. A stumbling block for the project -- which has been under discussion with the Watts-Hillandale and Old West Durham neighborhoods for some time -- has been the height of the structure. The zoning for the site under the Unified Development Ordinance was originally limited to 50 feet, below the height needed for what was originally conceived of as a 7-story hotel.
The developers, OWDNA and WHHNA reached a compromise on the project, though, as W-H uber-zoning-guy Tom Miller noted in his report to the neighborhood:
At its June 16 meeting, the city council approved a change to the zoning code that would allow hotel uses in the light industrial (IL) zone at Erwin Square to go as high as 80 ft. by right and to 95 ft. with a special use permit from the board of adjustment. The amendment will also allow office uses in the IL zone to go as high as 60 ft. by right and to 75 ft. with a special use permit.
The neighborhood association board supported the change, which will make way for the new Hilton Garden hotel proposed for the Main Street end of the grassy field at Erwin Square. The neighborhood association had strongly opposed an earlier version of the amendment that would have raised the height limit from 50 ft. to 110 ft. by right and 145 ft. with a special use permit for all uses in the IL zone at Erwin Square.
Think that's all there is to report on chain hoteliers in the Bull
City? Not so fast! Durham's faithful friends at Northgate are still
working to turn shopping "inside out" (the original Pennsylvania
Turnpike was built faster than the mall's outdoor plaza renovation --
no joke), but have also turned their attention to the mall-controlled
parcel between Duke and Gregson just north of Club Blvd.
The proposal? A five-to-six story Hampton Inn just north of Tripps, on the parcel sloping down towards I-85. According to the minutes from the May 2008 Trinity Park Neighborhood Association meeting, Northgate's Ginny Bowman and developer Daly Seven -- a Danville, Va. company that also operates the Guess Rd. Holiday Inn Express -- intend to pursue the rezoning needed to change the Duke St. portion of the site from residential to a land use classification more suited to a lodging purpose.
The TPNA agreed in May to form a subcommittee chaired by a northern TP resident to work with the developer team and bring thoughts and concerns back to TPNA's Urban Planning Committee and the association board. There's no timetable at this point for the project.