Cary in talks for downtown hotel

Council could consider land sale Oct. 11

akenney@newsobserver.comOctober 4, 2012 

Ed Gawf, Cary's downtown manager

COURTESY OF TOWN OF CARY

— The town government is in talks to bring a hotel to downtown Cary, and the project’s on the fast track.

The Cary Town Council could vote as early as Oct. 11 to sell an acre of land to the owners of The King’s Daughters Inn in Durham.

“We’re planning a boutique hotel,” said Deanna Crossman, who has been in the bed-and-breakfast business for four years with her husband, Colin. Downtown Cary perfectly fits their interest in revitalizing and redeveloping aging areas, she said.

The couple plans to build the 45-room hotel at the southeast corner of East Park Street and Academy Street. The town of Cary owns 70 percent of the proposed site and is negotiating for another 0.3 acres.

The hotel would replace the office building at the intersection of Park Street and Academy Street, which the town bought early this year for $1.1 million; the deal also would include the vacant lot next door, which the town bought in 2003 for about $127,000.

Additionally, the town is in talks to buy and resell to the Crossmans the residence at 110 E. Park St. for an as-yet-undisclosed sum. If those negotiations fail, the town and developers would have to reconsider the project, said Downtown Development Manager Ed Gawf.

The Crossmans would get the combined acre for about $951,000, significantly less than what the town will pay altogether for the land. The town chose that price by averaging what it has paid for all 13 acres of the downtown “opportunity site,” which includes the project site.

“It’s an example of working to get the right uses downtown and get private investment downtown,” Gawf said. “We’re supporting them, but it truly is a private investment, a major private investment downtown.”

The project will be on prime real estate if it proceeds: Its site sits at the corner of the block along Academy Street where the town plans to build a large downtown park and foster mixed-use private development.

“Our backyard will be the park,” said Deanna Crossman. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece of land.”

The proposed hotel would be a major expansion of the couple’s business. Their Durham bed and breakfast, once a home for indigent women, is only 16 rooms – but they’re confident they’ll find both the marketing and the financing for a larger Cary location.

“If everything goes well with the council, I am extremely confident that it will go through,” Crossman said. “We’ve had good conversations with banks. The market’s really opening up.”

The couple already has had draft plans prepared for a brick Georgian style building. They’re also in talks to move the historic Waldo Rood and Mayton houses onto the property, with one set to become a bridal suite and the other a residence for the innkeepers.

The Crossmans first considered the project after Gawf pitched downtown Cary to them last winter.

Gawf approached the couple because their Durham location seemed like it would fit downtown Cary well, he said.

“The two uses that are usually most difficult to get … downtown is a hotel and a grocery store,” Gawf said.

The Crossmans say they were hooked by the sense of momentum around Cary’s old commercial core.

“Everybody we’ve met with is really invested in downtown,” Deanna Crossman said. “Everybody wants to see this booming, vibrant and artsy place.”

She hopes to start construction next year and move to downtown Cary by spring of 2014.

Kenney: 919-460-2608 or twitter.com/KenneyOnCary

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