|By Donald W. Patterson, News &
Record, Greensboro, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 20, 2011--GREENSBORO -- The Gate City's PGA golf tournament, now under way at Sedgefield Country Club, carries the Wyndham brand and so too might a new, luxury hotel downtown.
The group that failed to get $26 million in tax-exempt bonds through the federal stimulus package last year said it still wants to build a hotel at South Elm Street and February One Place.
Local investors said the hotel, which would carry the Wyndham brand, would be "a significant tipping point" for the downtown economy.
The project has been on the drawing board for more than five years.
"We continue to work with Wyndham and hope that we will be able to bring a Wyndham hotel to Greensboro," said George House, a local attorney and one of the investors in the Elm Street Center group. "We are hopeful this could happen within the next two years."
A Wyndham Hotels and Resorts spokesman acknowledged the company's continued involvement in the project Thursday.
"While we are unable to provide further details at this time," the representative said in an email, "we look forward to assisting the owners in breaking ground on this project soon."
Another investor, businessman Randall Kaplan, said a recent hotel feasibility study proved encouraging.
"It looks like the project is even stronger than it was before," Kaplan said after the group's third such analysis. "The hotel market has rebounded fairly nicely in this region."
News reports last year put the cost of the project at $38 million for a 10-story hotel with 180 rooms.
However, Kaplan could not confirm those numbers in an interview this week.
"We are still in the process of completing the architecture," Kaplan said. "When the package is tied up in a bow, we will be glad to sit down and go over those features."
He said details of the latest feasibility study are confidential.
Kaplan did say that the hotel tower would be at the southwest corner of February One Place and Davie Street, the site of an existing parking deck.
He said the hotel could be built atop a new, 150-space deck.
The hotel would be connected to the existing Elm Street Center, which has 30,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space on South Elm Street.
That space would become a downtown conference center.
Kaplan also said the hotel will need 100-plus full-time employees and would create more than 300 construction jobs.
Kaplan said the project has no specific timetable.
"A lot of it will be dependent on whether or not we can put the financing together in the current business climate," he said.
If the project becomes reality, it will be without the help of the Urban Hotel Group, led by Bridget Chisholm, a Tennessee developer.
The two groups worked together last year to try secure what were called Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, part of the federal stimulus package.
"We have terminated our relationship," House said. "We think highly of Bridget Chisholm and the effort she put into this."
Efforts to reach Chisholm on Thursday were unsuccessful.
Before creating a joint venture with the Elm Street Center group, Chisholm had worked with the Ole Asheboro Neighborhood Association in an effort to build a hotel on the city-owned South Elm Street redevelopment site. But the appraised value of the land, $1.1 million, proved too high.
Contact Donald W. Patterson at 373-7027or firstname.lastname@example.org
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