Durham approves $4.2 million Greenfire deal

Staff writerSeptember 21, 2010 

— Greenfire Development won a $4.2 million incentive from the city Monday night, pending its conversion of the SunTrust Building into a four-star hotel.

"We're on low to moderate risk," said City Councilman Farad Ali before the council voted 7-0 to lend Greenfire $1million and give the company $3.2 million in cash installments. However, Greenfire gets nothing unless it completes the conversion and obtains a certificate of occupancy by July 31, 2013.

Kevin Dick, the city's economic development director, said the hotel would stimulate "more foot traffic in the city center and the return of thecity center to prominence as well as a stronger downtown business climate" and Durham's convention trade.

"I know in my heart that Greenfire's project is going to be tremendously successful," said Ted Conner, economic development head with the Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Conner was one of 17 people who spoke in favor of the deal. Only two spoke in opposition.

Estimates are that the hotel would add 125 permanent jobs in the city, and the incentive's deal include provisions encouraging hiring of Durham residents and engaging Durham contractors for construction.

Total cost estimate for the project is $52.7 million. Greenfire is still seeking an incentive from Durham County and permission from the state's Local Government Commission to offer up to $25million in Recovery Zone bonds on the open market.

jim.wise@newsobserver.com or 919-641-5895

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