Developers get corporate OK to operate hotel near convention center is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

Drawing of Aloft Hotel planned for downtown Wilmington. Courtesy of Jim Quinn, Creative Commercial Properties.
Drawing of Aloft Hotel planned for downtown Wilmington. Courtesy of Jim Quinn, Creative Commercial Properties.

A new hotel may be coming to downtown Wilmington’s convention center district.

Poteat Hospitality Associates, LLC of Laurinburg, NC and Big Dawg, LLC, which runs the Best Western Coastline Inn downtown, have been approved by Starwood Hotels to operate a 125-room franchise of their Aloft Hotels brand.

According to a news release, the six-story building will be incorporated into the existing Coastline Conference and Event Center, which is adjacent to the Best Western and Wilmington Railroad Museum and one block away from the Wilmington Convention Center.

“The idea is to salvage as much of the existing building as possible,” said Jim Quinn of Creative Commercial Properties, who helped broker the deal and sent the news release. “People will be able to see the old facade.”

Plans for the complex include a lobby bar, a full-service restaurant on the ground floor and a rooftop courtyard with a fire pit and bistro. There will also be 7,000 square feet of meeting space, which will be catered by the restaurant. Rooms will be modern in design and have views of the river, USS North Carolina and the Memorial and Isabel Holmes Bridges.

The hotel would help address the lack of accommodations in the area, which has concerned the city and tourism board.

“The new convention center has been somewhat handicapped by a lack of convenient guest rooms adjacent to the center, and they may have missed out on some of the more lucrative conventions,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in the release, which also noted that he has been in contact with the developers from the beginning.

According to city spokesperson Malissa Talbert, no site plans have been presented to or approved by city council yet.

“It could be some time before the council sees it,” said Talbert. “It has to go through a lot of other departments first.”

Developers hope to start construction in early 2016 and finish by the time the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament comes to town in May 2017, according to the release. Quinn said their timeline might be a bit ambitious, though he noted it’s good to have goals.

“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to get all the approvals needed, lots of plans and drawings to be made and things like that,” said Quinn, adding that the process for city approval has already been started. “Construction on the project will probably start closer to mid-2016.”

According to Quinn, the founders of Poteat Hospitality, who have been in the business for over 25 years, attempted to build a hotel in the area years ago but were halted due to the recession. They also presented plans for a hotel at the location of the Water Street parking deck to city council last year but were unsuccessful. The city instead chose Chapel-Hill based East West Partners to redevelop the property into a mixed-used development of residences, retail spaces and parking.

In addition to building the hotel, which will have easy access to the city’s celebrated Riverwalk and other downtown attractions and businesses, an adjacent three-story building will also be redone. The 9,000 square-foot historic Coastline Railroad freight building, which faces Nutt Street, will be turned into restaurant/retailer space on the bottom floors and office or conference space on the top floor.

The estimated project cost is $25 million. The design of the hotel will be handled by Bob Ham of Isom Ham Design Group, PA of Wilkesboro, NC.

Another hotel chain, Embassy Suites, was previously approved to operate a franchise location next to the Wilmington Convention Center. Construction on that project, which will add another 185 rooms to the area, was delayed by legal proceedings.