Featured article in “Wilson Times.” December 16, 2019. By Brie Handgraaf.
Historic downtown Wilson is getting a hotel again thanks to a $19 million redevelopment project.
“It is very exciting to get a development of this kind in our downtown, especially at this stage in our redevelopment,” said Kimberly Van Dyk, downtown development director. “I think a hotel downtown is going to be a serious gamechanger, and it is going to help speed up redevelopment for sure.”
Paul Drummond, a manager partner for Cherry Hotel, and a group of other developers have been working with the city for several years.
“The level of commitment City Manager Grant Goings, the council, Kimberly and (Chief Planning and Development Officer) Rodger (Lentz) have made to this downtown is incredible,” he said. “The things they told us about three years ago are all coming to fruition, and the things that are still in the pipeline are incredible engines that will drive the city of Wilson forward. This team and their level of commitment to Wilson are the reason our group is here for the hotel redevelopment.”
The group has spent time this year putting a new roof on the building and completing some other stabilization work, but the bulk of the construction is likely to get underway in the second quarter of 2020. Once complete by the end of 2021, the proposed Courtyard by Marriott will have 100 rooms, a reception area, bar, dining room, kitchen and a grand ballroom. “Years ago, the Kiwanis and other clubs would hold all their events there in addition to wedding receptions and high school proms, so I would imagine the same type of events would be targeted for the ballroom as before,” Drummond said. “The intent is to renovate the two-story ballroom to its historical grandeur.”
Van Dyk said some companies have a set of necessary components when choosing locations and having a hotel “helps Wilson check another box as something we have that could meet the needs for future development.”
Developer Rosani Kowalik said in a presentation the hotel is expected to generate more than $800,000 in occupancy taxes in a five-year period, which will further investments throughout Wilson. She added that studies indicate that for every $100 a guest spends on a hotel room,
another $200 is spent in the community.
“Downtown is already well into the process of making a comeback, but a hotel is critical to continuing that revitalization and forward momentum,” Drummond said.
The project was in limbo for several months before legislators pulled the tax credit program from the stalled state budget and passed it separately. The tax credits help make the project financially feasible, along with an incentive package from the city including the building itself, a $1.5 million forgivable loan from the city, nearly $29,000 reimbursement for remediation of the property and assistance with infrastructure and parking.
The hotel is expected to create at least 19 jobs with an average salary of $35,855 a year.