Commission to oversee grant tied to hotel project

Published 12:39 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, authorized the mayor to sign a agreement between the city and Mid-East Commission for the commission to provide services related to administering a grant for the proposed downtown hotel project.

Under terms of the agreement, the city pays the commission $6,000 to perform those services. The city would be billed in $1,500 increments, according to a city document. The cost of administering the grant is being split with Beaufort County.

The hotel could be part of a downtown redevelopment project involving the former Belk and Hotel Louise buildings. Earlier this year, city staff began preparing contract documents concerning proposed options on the two downtown properties. The city intends to assign those options, after following required procedures, to a to-be-determined third party or third parties for development purposes. The city hired the University of North Carolina’s School of Government to assist it with this process.

The proposed aggregate cost for the options on the two properties is $23,000. The aggregate cost for acquisition of the two properties is $841,000. The city plans to use general-fund money to finance the cost of the options for the two properties.

Some people have expressed concerns with city money being earmarked for the project. If a downtown hotel is viable, they content, a private developer likely would have already built it, they contend. Several previous proposals to build a downtown hotel in the past 25 or so years have not come to fruition, they note. They believe proposals to renovate an existing building for use as a new hotel have proven too costly, thereby discouraging developers.

The latest downtown hotel proposal is connected with a redevelopment plan involving the University of North Carolina’s School of Government.

During a meeting earlier this year, the city received information about the project.

“For the last eight to 10 months, under the approval of council and guidance of (then-City Manager) Brian Alligood, we have been negotiating on behalf of the city option contracts for two key properties here in downtown Washington,” said Jordan Jones, a project manager with the School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative, to the City Council at that meeting. “The goal here is not for the city to acquire the properties but to acquire site control and option contracts so we can assign this purchase contract to a future developer that we will be identifying in our work as we start getting more involved in this process.”

Jones said then that during the next several months the DFI team would be working in downtown Washington to “think through potential uses of these sites.” Jones said that team is aware that the council has expressed an interest in a hotel for downtown Washington.




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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