Historic hotel demonstrates value of tax credits
EDENTON – On a recent visit, Gov. Pat McCrory spoke of his support of the State Historic Tax Credits that were designed to rehab existing properties of historical significance as well as boosting economic development through job creation.
He took a trolley tour of Edenton and one of many stops was the Hotel Hinton, which the governor cited as an example.
The Hotel Hinton, located at 113 King Street next door to the Historic Courthouse, was the site of state legislator Bob Steinburg’s swearing in ceremony. In addition, this facility is located across the street from the Courthouse Green, which provides an unobstructed view of the Chowan River.
The history of this building is that it was constructed in the early 1920s and finished in 1926. It was Edenton’s first modern brick hotel. The Edenton News, on July 20, 1927, boasted that the hotel had 82 rooms, of which 78 had a bath and “hot and cold water in every room.”
Actually, while the water statement was true, shared bathrooms were common among rooms on almost every floor. The contractor for the project was L. B. Perry and the M.G. Brown Company supplied the building materials. The Quinn Furniture Company provided the furnishings and carpeting. Firms in Norfolk, Va., furnished tile work and polished plate glass.
Despite being a large structure, the hotel is finished fairly simply. The facade has 5 bay sections, the central portion of which contains double windows. The parapet has a modest cast concrete cornice under which is a series of shallow brick panels, the central one containing a cast concrete “Hotel Hinton” frontispiece.
Inns are known to have been located here at least since the 1750s. On the western end of the site, including the lot of the adjacent Leary Law Office, stood the King’s Arms, a tavern operated as early as 1753 by John Vaun. Owned from 1764 until 1769 by Joseph Hewes, George Blair, and William Lowther, the property was then sold to John Horniblow, its best known host. The current plan for this facility once completed is to rename it, the Hotel Joseph Hewes, owing to its history.
The property was acquired in late 1925 by brothers H.L. and W.E. Hinton, and the present building erected the next year. Like many ambitious ventures of the late 1920s, the hotel was a casualty of the Great Depression and foreclosed on in 1936. It reopened as the Joseph Hewes Hotel and continued as such until 1960, when it was sold to Chowan County. Until recently, the county has used the building as office space.
The hotel has gross square footage of 33,075 compared to 19,800 originally. The building was originally built in the shape of an H, but the developer has been approved to enclose the rear of the building with kitchen facilities on the ground floor with additional suites and rooms on the floors above. Covering a portion of roof area, the developer plans to provide rooftop dining and other activities, which will provide visitors with an unobstructed view of the Albemarle Sound.
Due to the historical nature, there are large plaster columns, crown moldings, original doors and other types of architectural features that the developer will be maintaining. The original doors for example are too small to meet current code requirements. Therefore, these doors will remain but will not be operating and additional doors will be provided into the rooms and suites.
In the recent past, the building suffered frozen pipes, which burst causing substantial water damage. Therefore, almost all of the demolition has been performed, notwithstanding that some of the demo was not anticipated in the construction and will now be replaced in accordance with current code requirements. All of the windows require replacement and all of the original oak floors located in the corridors will need to be refinished. Having seen the property firsthand, and reviewed the construction plans, we are confident that this hotel will become the “Crown Jewel of the Region” that the developer expects.
The Town of Edenton, is steeped in history in the early founding of our country. There are numerous eateries and boutiques of all types and a very attractive downtown location, but the one thing that has been missing is this hotel. The developer, an affiliate of SAGA Construction and Development and Saga, will manage the entire process, from acquisition thru construction to final completion. Their representative, Bob Howsare, Director of Acquisitions and Development, believes in Edenton and that the Town will become an even more attractive destination spot for tourists corporate meetings and weddings with the addition of the hotel, restaurant and event/ conference areas.
He is convinced that people will want to come to Edenton for two or three days as they travel about staying at different locations rather than spending their entire vacation in one place. He suggests that Edenton will compete with Colonial Williamsburg and offer an additional historic experience, to many of those same visitors as well as Tour Business Groups and Business Groups and wedding parties.
Howsare claims organizations have focused on Edenton because of its historical value, but rejected the community due to a lack of available hotel rooms and meeting facilities. One of the issues that had to be resolved with local elected leaders was the matter of adequate parking for hotel residents. The developer resolved this matter and the Town and County are committed to provide the parking in the rear lot and improve the drainage so that visitors will have ready access to the hotel.
The General Contractor on the project will be Weaver Cooke and the Architect is TiseKiester, both of whom are highly experienced in this type of project. The development financing will include Historic Tax Credits as well as New Market Tax Credits.
“We have had to make adjustments due to the loss of the State Historic Tax Credits,” said Howsare
The developer expects to close on acquisition of the property in May and complete construction and open for business in the summer of 2016. They have also hired the Charlestown Hotels to manage to facility. Finally they have committed a substantial sum of money to advertise the project on a Pre –Opening basis.
Many people have been critical of tax incentives of any kind, and believe that there are other ways to attract businesses to locate in North Carolina. Among them are low tax rates, good infrastructure and good education. But clearly, this project would never have gotten off the ground were it not for Federal Historic Tax Credits and the Federal New Market Tax Credits.