Chapel Hill News

UNC group offers to help Hillsborough redevelop Colonial Inn

By DeAnna Overmann

The UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative has formally proposed to help Hillsborough with the redevelopment of the Colonial Inn.

The DFI was established by the School of Government in 2011 to assist communities in North Carolina in achieving their community economic development goals. It brings specialized development and finance expertise to attract private investment into transformative projects.

The Hillsborough Town Board voted unanimously this fall to begin eminent domain proceedings on the Colonial Inn, owned by Francis Henry, but has taken no other action so far and did not act on the DFI proposal at its Dec. 14 boad meeting.

“We can help you find the right partner that will complete the project and do the development,” DFI Director Michael Lemanski said at the meeting. “We will be treating it like any private project, but giving you the control.”

DFI has proposed visiting the 153 W. King St. inn site and surrounding properties, reviewing current and historic plans, documenting materials relevant to the project and identifying current parameters for development.

It would then then establish guiding public interests and development principles in partnership with the town; identify development opportunities; and refine a development plan with a mix of uses, such as residential, retail, office, civic, and associated parking needs. It will also evaluate options for financing, including use of development finance tools like tax credits, among other actions.

Lemanski said the project could take about nine months.

“If the town of Hillsborough agrees to partner with us, then they can choose to have us lead the process, set it all up and let someone else take over the project or have us lead the process and then also be the developer,” he said.

The cost to the town of Hillsborough would be 2 percent of overall gains if DFI is the pre-developer and 4 percent if DFI serves as both pre-developer and developer to the project.

“The board is waiting to take the next step,” said Town Manager Eric Peterman. “We have four months after we filed the eminent domain, if no injunction has been taken, the board can then offer fair market value for the property.”

In other business:

▪ Mayor Tom Stevens and the board held a reception to say farewell to Town Commissioner Eric Hallman and swear in new Town Commissioner Mark Bell.

“I look forward to working with this wonderful town board and amazing town staff,” Bell said. “And I am excited to serve the town of Hillsborough.”

▪ The board unanimously voted in Katherine Ferguson as the new mayor pro-tem.

▪ The board also reappointed Ashley Desena to a second term on the Hillsborough Cemetery Committee, appointed Joe Griffin and Virginia Smith to the Historic District Commission, and appointed Kate Carroll and Sean Garrett to the Tourism Board.