City officials on Friday announced a deal with the owner of the Milner Inn to buy the flood-prone Capital Boulevard motel for $830,000.
The sale follows months of negotiations and should be completed next month, city spokeswoman Jayne Kirkpatrick said. Raleigh will then demolish the one-story structure and the adjacent Foxy Lady strip club.
“I like businesses to stay open, and this was a tough one,” City Councilman John Odom said. “But as long as we pay them their fair share, I’m for it.”
In 2013, Raleigh received $1.47 million in state and federal grant money for the project. The sale comes a year after the city razed the AMF bowling alley next door.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides the grants for flood-prone properties, because the frequent insurance claims tend to drive up rates. In the long term, the city hopes to turn the area into a park.
The 3.3-acre, 24,500-square-foot property has a tax value of $1.29 million, according to Wake County records. The motel was built in 1952, and many of its guests use it as a primary residence. It is owned by a small lodging chain based in Detroit.
During major storms, motel guests have awakened to water in their rooms, which damaged their belongings and the inn’s furniture. Much of the first floor had 2 to 4 inches of water during a heavy rain in August. So did the Capital Inn next door, although the city doesn’t yet have money to buy that property.
In the years to come, the city wants to buy up and clear out all buildings between the north and southbound lanes of Capital Bouleveard. That’s estimated to cost $10.7 million, so it will happen piece by piece as grants become available.
Property owners aren’t betting on getting bought out in the short term. The owner of the recently shuttered Dunkin’ Donuts next to Milner Inn has the property listed for sale or lease. Kelvin Dumas of Colliers International is marketing the listing, and he said he’s had offers from restaurants, convenience stores and even a car dealership.
“We’re getting an average of five calls a day on it,” he said. “It’s very much a hot property.”
More than flood control
Raleigh’s plans for the quirky island in the center of Capital Boulevard go well beyond flood control.
When the collection of motels and shops is gone, floodwaters from Pigeon House Branch will have somewhere to go. And Raleigh will clean up the neglected stream, which is considered one of the most polluted in the city.
Eventually, the state will reunite the two sides of Capital Boulevard on the west side of the island, allowing the city to create North Boulevard Park, with greenways connecting to nearby neighborhoods and downtown.
The hope is that Raleigh can build a more attractive northern gateway to downtown. “That’ll be good for the aesthetics,” Odom said. “That’s a win-win.”
Kirkpatrick said she doesn’t know when the city plans to close the motel and begin demolition. No one could be reached for comment at the Milner Inn or Foxy Lady, but the nightclub announced via Facebook on Sept. 20 that it will be “relocating in a matter of weeks whoop whoop!”
For now, though, the business remains “fully staffed and ready to party,” according to the Facebook post.