Old hotel draws interest

Published 1:36 am Friday, November 25, 2011

During its meeting Monday, Washington’s City Council is scheduled to hear a presentation about converting the former Hotel Louise and Belk building in downtown Washington into a senior-living facility.
Judy Siegel, an official with Landex Companies, is expected to make the presentation, according to the council’s tentative agenda. The agenda provided no additional details about the proposal.
The Hotel Louise, at one time, was targeted for renovation and conversion into The George — Little Inn at Washington. That project fizzled because of lack of funding, resulting in $750,000 in grant funding reverting to the state.
From the time the $750,000 in grant money became available in February 2005, the project to renovate the former Hotel Louise building in downtown Washington has suffered from lack of “solid commitments” to convert the old building into a modern, downtown hotel. In the summer of 2007, Progress Partners negotiated with two groups that had expressed interested in the project.
At a City Council meeting in June 2007, Progress Partners’ managing partner Stan Friedman told council members that existing investors in The George project could align themselves with one of the groups considering taking over the project.
For more than a year beginning in 2005, city official had particular concerns with The George project. Their fears that the project would not meet specific criteria by the deadline and the project would lose the $750,000 component of a $1 million grant were realized in 2007.
The $250,000 part of the $1 million grant did not have to be returned to the state. The bulk of that money was spent on facade improvements to downtown buildings.
In February 2005, Washington was notified it had been awarded a $1 million grant to help renovate the old Hotel Louise building. That project called for the city to lend $750,000 to Progress Partners (a forerunner of the Progress Companies) to renovate the Hotel Louise building and create some full-time jobs. The project’s original plans called for a spa and restaurant to be housed in the renovated structure. The city was the conduit by which the grant from the state passed to The George project and the facade-improvement project for eligible downtown properties.
The council’s entire agenda may be obtained by visiting the city’s web¬site at www.washington-nc.com. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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