Monty Hoffman calls his company a “neighborhood transformational” developer, and if its plans come to fruition, the Washington, D.C.-based developer could significantly change the look and feel of the Peace Street corridor near William Peace University.
His firm, PN Hoffman, is the new owner of a large chunk of the Seaboard Station property near the university. The company bought the property for $34 million, with grand designs to build a $250 million residential-and-retail project in three phases.
PN Hoffman’s bid for the property was selected from 13 offers, according to the university, and proceeds from the sale will go into an endowment and pay for facilities and programs for students. The university bought the property for around $20 million in 2013, investing about one-third of its $33 million endowment at the time, The News & Observer previously reported.
In a phone interview with The News & Observer on Friday, Hoffman went into further detail about his plans for Seaboard Station.
First up: a hotel facing Peace Street on the corner of Halifax and West Peace streets. Currently, that block of land is home to Sunflower’s Cafe.
Hoffman said the company, which has to get some administrative approvals from the city before building, is about 18 to 20 months away from breaking ground.
“We are going to do a hotel on the corner of Peace and Halifax,” he said. “The university has interest in having meeting rooms and gathering places over here and it would be a good place for parents visiting to stay.”
The company is in talks with multiple hotel operators, but at this time, Hoffman isn’t prepared to say which ones.
The planned apartments would face Halifax Street, but when the company plans to tackle those and the rest of the Seaboard property is still up in the air. It could be immediately after phase one or later. “The market is our boss” on timing, Hoffman said.
Hoffman added that the company is still refining its plans and hasn’t decided what buildings might get torn down or not.
“Obviously on the outside corner, where the hotel is going, that structure will have to go,” Hoffman said. “We are still in flux on some of the other buildings. We are going to keep some and some we will have to take out. We are in discussion with the retailers and we are inviting many back that want to stay. ...
“We are very careful about how we curate retail. That is why we like mom-and-pop shops frankly, they add personality and authenticity, and I think we all want that.”
Jason Smith, the owner of 18 Seaboard, said he has already met with the new owners of the property and he’s excited about working with them. He added that his restaurant’s lease is such that he will be around for a long time.
“We have a good, long lease and we’re going to be business as usual for a long time to come,” Smith said. “There should be no doubt for any of our customers. We book a lot of our events a long time out and all of those are extremely stable. Nothing should cause any of our folks concern.”
Smith said that while construction projects can cause “a little bit of heartburn,” it will likely create something better in the long run.
“I think this new company will probably be able to give us some insight on what the total plan looks like,” he said. “It sounds like they’ve done this type of project before. I feel like their expertise is similar to what we saw with Cameron Village and Regency. They understand how to do that kind of job. I feel like these folks are trying to do something similar to that.”
PN Hoffman is behind The Wharf, $2.5 billion development adjacent to Potomac River in D.C. that would dwarf about anything in Raleigh.
At Logan’s Trading Co., which isn’t on property that is part of the Hoffman deal, owner Josh Logan said he hopes PN Hoffman will be thoughtful of their new neighbors.
“As owner of this property, we’re not directly affected, but we’re invested in the neighborhood and community and hope the new owners will be thoughtful developers, friendly neighbors and good partners,” Logan said.
Logan added he wasn’t blindsided by the news of the sale and that he hopes the new owners will ask him for insights and feedback.
“As an adjacent property owner, the university and Trademark made us aware they were working on” a sale, Logan said. “It’s not hitting us out of the blue, we were aware there was a bidding process and that a sale would happen. It was always our expectation that the winning bidder would need to optimize the space. We have expected a more aggressive development of neighboring properties.”
PN Hoffman could also buy up more adjacent parcels to Seaboard, with Hoffman saying that while it is not in the current plans to purchase more parcels, “we would be receptive to (buying) other sites” there.
The firm is opening an office in Raleigh — with a senior manager in D.C. moving here next year — and Hoffman wants to do several more projects here. The Raleigh office would be its only office location outside of D.C.