|By David Bracken, The News &
Observer, Raleigh, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 24, 2011--RALEIGH -- A group of Raleigh developers and a Washington real estate firm have been selected to build a 125-room hotel on Hillsborough Street across from the N.C. State University Bell Tower. The hotel will replace a Raleigh landmark.
NCSU officials announced the selection of Bell View Partners and The Bernstein Cos. on Tuesday. The university's endowment fund has spent the last several years buying up property across from the tower in an effort to make the site more attractive to developers.
The project is the latest in a flurry of redevelopment activity along Hillsborough Street, which was given a $10 million makeover by the city last year. The Brewery, a popular live music venue, was demolished this month to make way for a drugstore, a parking deck and apartments.
NCSU began soliciting redevelopment proposals in the spring for the 1.3 acre of property it owns.
The hotel would include ground floor retail and a restaurant. The project would occupy the stretch of Hillsborough between Enterprise Street and Maiden Lane, replacing both Sadlack's Heroes and a retail center that is home to Schoolkids Records.
Sadlack's, which has been around for more than 30 years, was renovated just five years ago.
Ralph Recchie, NCSU's director of real estate, didn't return a call seeking comment Tuesday. The hotel project is a big step forward in the continuing effort to make Hillsborough Street a destination, he said in a statement.
Bell View will also be charged with redeveloping a smaller parcel that the university owns near the Players' Retreat restaurant and bar. Specific plans for that piece have yet to be determined, said Michael Sandman, a Bell View partner.
Sandman, Mark Andrews and Joe Whitehouse formed Bell View this year to develop the NCSU property. The partners have also been involved in the Paramount condominium project in downtown Raleigh and The Cypress retirement community in North Raleigh.
The Bernstein Cos. own and manage four hotels in Washington and Annapolis and Bethesda, Md. This is the company's first project in the Triangle.
Sandman said it has not been determined what brand the hotel will be. He said Bernstein has relationships with the Starwood and Marriott chains.
"The idea is to build a premier hotel and own it for avery long time," Sandman said.
Bell View and Bernstein are still in discussions with N.C. State officials over whether they will buy the property outright or sign a long-term lease. Sandman said the goal is to open the hotel in 2013.
It will be just blocks from the 187-room Holiday Inn Brownstone on Hillsborough. Sandman said he expects the hotel will draw university visitors as well as those attending events downtown and in Glenwood South.
"If it's not the most important entry point into the university, it's certainly the most prominent," he said. "I think it's one of those forever locations."
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