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Durham, North Carolina City Council Approves Incentives for Second Downtown
Hotel Project in Less than Six Weeks

The Gentian Group Plans Conversion of the Former Mutual Community Savings Bank
 into a 54-room Select-Service Hotel

By Jim Wise, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sept. 18, 2012--DURHAM -- A second downtown hotel project in less than six weeks got a boost from the City Council on Monday night, with approval for a $605,000 incentive to make over a second bank building.

The Gentian Group, an association of Durham investors, wants to convert the former Mutual Community Savings Bank, on Chapel Hill Street at the Holland Street Mall, into a 54-room "select-service" hotel with restaurant and rooftop bar.

Conditions for the deal include Gentian making an $11 million capital investment, starting construction by March 1, 2013, and having the hotel ready for occupancy by April 30, 2014. Payments will be made over seven years, with reduction in the total if the hotel exceeds revenue projections.

Economic Development Director Kevin Dick said the hotel will create 89 permanent jobs, add tax revenue for the city and county and "help draw additional corporate clients to downtown."

Gentian principals include Daniel Robinson, Carey Green and Brad Weese, all Durham-area residents.

City Manager Tom Bonfield said the incentive is still contingent on Durham County approving a $605,000 incentive as well. Deputy Durham County Manager Marqueta Welton said Gentian has approached the county, but the request has not been advanced to the Board of Commissioners.

In August, the city and county approved $7.7 million in incentives for 21 Museum Hotel's conversion of the 17-story Hill Building into a 125-room luxury hotel.

Downtown boosters and local government officials say the city center could use 800 rooms besides the 188 at the Marriott, which shares its Foster Street building with the Durham Convention Center.

Gentian's more modest Holland Hotel will occupy a modernist landmark constructed in 1968. With soaring columns and an iconic rounded tower at one corner, it will pay architectural homage to the old Center Theater cinema, which occupied the site before moving to Lakewood Shopping Center in 1967.

Wise: 919-641-5895


(c)2012 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

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