Midtown Raleigh News

News Briefs

Ramada Inn on Blue Ridge sold

A local investment group has paid $4.453 million for the Ramada Inn on Blue Ridge Road in west Raleigh, according to Wake County property records.

The group plans to invest about $500,000 upgrading the hotel, said Preeth Patil, one of the partners in the group.

The group also owns the Days Inn on Airport Boulevard in Morrisville and the Microhotel & Suites in Hillsborough.

The 130-room hotel has been performing well, Patil said, and the group expects it will do better as that area of the city is redeveloped.

Raleigh recently completed a plan that calls for redeveloping the Blue Ridge Road corridor, from Western Boulevard to Edwards Mill Road.

The area includes the State Fairgrounds, N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Rex Hospital. The plan envisions a more urban street, with sidewalks and bike paths, lined with multistory office, retail and residential buildings.

Late last year, the state gave about 34 acres at the northeast corner of Wade Avenue and Blue Ridge Road to a private foundation that plans to develop much of the property to raise money for the N.C. Museum of Art.

The hotel occupancy rate in Wake County through the first half of the year was 63.3 percent, up 1.6 percent compared to the same period a year ago, according to Smith Travel Research.

Revenue per available room was up 3.3 percent in Wake over that same period.

Staff writer David Bracken

Lowes Foods closing two stores

Lowes Foods is closing two of its Triangle stores, including one in west Cary near where Publix plans to open its first grocery store in the region next year.

The Lowes Foods stores at 1961 High House Road in Cary and at 2900 East Millbrook Road in North Raleigh will close Sept. 14. All employees will be offered positions at other area Lowes stores, the company said last week.

After the closings, Lowes Foods will have 11 stores in Garner, Cary, Raleigh, Clayton and Apex.

Earlier this month Florida-based Publix announced plans to build a store in the Bradford shopping center, a retail and residential development under construction at the corner of Davis Drive and High House Road. The store is expected to open by late 2014.

Lowes Foods is fifth in terms of market share in Franklin, Johnston and Wake counties, with 6.4 percent, according to data from Chain Store Guide. Walmart is the leader, with nearly 24 percent market share, followed by Food Lion (20.2), Harris Teeter (16.4) and Kroger (6.4).

In July, Kroger announced plans to acquire Matthews-based Harris Teeter for $2.4 billion.

Staff writer David Bracken

New name for heart-care practice

The high-powered Raleigh cardiology practice that abandoned WakeMed Health & Hospitals two years ago in favor of rival Rex Hospital has completed its transition with a new name under the Rex umbrella.

Wake Heart & Vascular Associates will become part of N.C. Heart & Vascular by combining operations with Rex Heart & Vascular Specialists.

The two cardiology practices will have nearly three dozen doctors in 10 counties and will refer patients to Rex Hospital, and subsequently to a planned sister facility, N.C. Heart & Vascular Hospital, which is scheduled to open in 2016.

The consolidation of Wake Heart and Rex Heart solidifies Rex’s position as a cardiology center in Raleigh and in eastern North Carolina that will compete with WakeMed’s Heart Center.

Wake Heart, formed nearly three decades ago, had been a cash cow for WakeMed, referring some of the most lucrative patients for treatment. Wake Heart’s defection from WakeMed to Rex in 2011 was one of the triggers for WakeMed’s hostile takeover attempt of Rex, which ultimately led to a settlement.

The rift publicly exposed the cutthroat competition for business between the two Triangle hospital networks. WakeMed, buffeted by numerous changes in the health care landscape, is expected to post its first financial loss in years for the current fiscal year.

Staff writer John Murawski

Raleigh is nation’s fastest-growing college town

Raleigh was America’s fastest-growing college town in first decade of the century, according to a new data analysis from SpareFoot, an online marketplace for self-storage.

SpareFoot compared the 2000 and 2010 populations of so-called college towns, and Raleigh topped the list of 20 with a population growth of 46 percent from 2000-2010. UNC Chapel Hill was 16th, at 17.49 percent.

SpareFoot selected only municipalities with a main campus of a public four-year university and a residential population of at least 20,000. The analysis did not include cities such as Atlanta because although they’re home to major universities, their economies are more diversified than those of traditional college towns.

“College towns are so appealing because they combine the charm and livability of a small city with the sophistication and amenities of a much larger metropolitan area,” population researcher Bert Sperling, founder of BestPlaces.net, told SpareFoot.com. “Cities with colleges and universities are healthier financially, because the local school provides a stable economic base when recessions hit. In fact, enrollment often increases when the job market tightens.”

For more information about America’s fastest-growing college towns, go to http://blog.sparefoot.com/3998-fastest-growing-college-towns.

From staff reports