DURHAM — County commissioners aided a second downtown hotel proposal Monday night by approving a $605,000 economic development grant to support the transformation of a former bank building.
Gentian Group, made up of Durham investors, plan an $11 million transformation to the former home of the Mutual Community Savings Bank into the 54-room Holland Hotel with a restaurant and rooftop bar, according to county officials.
The 5-0 vote signifies the county match to the city incentives granted by the Durham City Council last month.
City and county grants would not be passed onto the project at 315 E. Chapel Hill St. until certain provisions are met. For example, county payments, paid over a seven-year period, would not begin until after the hotel was completed.
The hotel would create about 89 permanent jobs by 2014 and about 100 jobs during construction, county officials said.
In August, the city and county approved $7.7 million in incentives for 21c’s boutique, 125-room hotel project at the 17-story Hill Building.
Durham boosters have said the city center could use 800 rooms besides the 188 existing rooms at the Marriott, which shares its Foster Street building with the Durham Convention Center. An increase in hotel rooms would boost business to the city-county owned Convention Center, which received a $7 million renovation in 2011 after several years of annual deficits exceeding $1 million.
On Monday night, representatives from the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, and other organizations touted the renovation of the 1968 modernist landmark with soaring columns into a desired amenity that would lure more visitors to downtown after 5 p.m.
“What an innovative concept we are looking at tonight to breathe new life into an iconic, historic building right in our city center and meeting an important need for our Durham Convention Center,” Downtown Durham Inc. President Bill Kalkhof said.
Commissioner Vice Chair Ellen Reckhow reiterated those thoughts. During a recent tour of the building, Reckhow said she was struck by the harmony of the proposed vision and the current building.
The first floor, with its high ceilings, is perfect for a hotel lobby and restaurant, she said.
The upper floors would be transformed into hotel rooms, and the rooftop holds the potential for a “wonderful” rooftop bar and lounge area, Reckhow said.
“That is just, you know, a stroke of genius in my opinion to be reusing that building in that way,” Reckhow said.