Local News

The new Prince Charles Hotel

06PrinceCharlesWhen built in 1925, the Hotel Prince Charles was downtown Fayetteville’s tallest building. It was a grand landmark like no other. But over the last 40 years, the structure deteriorated to the point that the fire department closed it down several years ago. In 2014, PCH Holdings LLC bought the hotel at auction for $200,000. The surrounding property was purchased for $2 million. Fayetteville native Jordan Jones is one of the owners and is serving as project manager of the company’s reconstruction of the interior of the building. It’s a family affair for Jones. His great, greatgrandfather, James A. Jones, built the hotel 94 years ago.

When North Carolina’s largest banks showed no interest in downtown Fayetteville investment opportunities, a local community bank said yes when asked to join in a long-term investment. Carter Bank and Trust Company is the major investor in the $18.3 million reconstruction project. “It was a pretty huge win for downtown,” Jones said. He added that over the last year the big banks have seen the commitments that the city of Fayetteville and PCH Holdings have made, and now consider the city “investable.”

Jones said the Prince Charles project was much more than a renovation. None of the existing interior walls still stand. One-bedroom units have about 650 square-feet. Apartment rentals from the second to the seventh floors range in price from an average of $1,200 for one-bedroom units to $1,700 for larger two-bedroom units. 

Two-bedroom apartments have two full baths. All apartments have washers and dryers in addition to kitchen appliances. There are 11 separate floor plans. A dozen or so of the 59 apartments overlook Segra Stadium. Not all the apartments are ready for occupancy, but Jones said it won’t be long. The former ballroom on the eighth floor has been leased to a firm with 3,300 square-feet of open office space. The original hardwood floors remain.

The 300-plus windows in the building represent a significant, unintended expense for the developers. The Historic Resources Commission is responsible for reviewing and approving all exterior changes in designated districts and to landmark properties. It required that the windows be repaired, not replaced. “We sent them to Florida to be fixed,” Jones said. Austin Historical Restorations of Orlando was paid $850,000 to preserve the window frames. Jones added that much of the original glass was used.

The apartment building’s first floor at ground level will feature two full-service restaurants. A high-end steakhouse is planned for the former lobby of the hotel. A pizzeria with 2,600 feet of open-air space is planned for the rear of the building near the baseball stadium entrance. And, the Coffee Scene with shops on Morganton Road and Fort Bragg will also have a location in the Prince Charles, just off Hay Street.

Tenants will have reserved parking spaces in the adjacent five-story parking garage. The city owns the building at a taxpayer cost so far of $16 million. PCH Holdings has put $2 million into the parking deck and has asked the city for another $1.5 million. It’s estimated that of the 482 spaces in the parking tower, 200 of them will be available to the public depending on time of day.

Celebrating Memorial Day

05FreedomMemorialFayetteville’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony at Freedom Memorial Park is set for Monday, May 27, at 11 a.m. Bleacher seating for 300 will be available, but the seats typically fill quickly. Attendees can also bring lawn chairs for seating. Parking is available at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, 100 Bragg Blvd.; and the Medical Arts building, 101 Robeson St. A gateway to downtown, the park includes graceful monuments honoring military veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the global war on terrorism. The ceremony ensures the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom are never forgotten.

The Cool Spring Downtown District is partnering with the ASOM Foundation in support of the 12th Annual Field of Honor. Since its inception in 2008, The North Carolina Field of Honor has been an annual tradition in downtown Fayetteville.

Through June 27, hundreds of flags fly on the parade ground between the ASOM at 100 Bragg Blvd. and the North Carolina Veterans Park. Each flag comes with its own story and displays a tag identifying both the person who sponsored the flag and the honoree. This display of heroism flies as a patriotic tribute to the strength and unity of Americans. It honors all who are currently serving, those who have served, and the men and women who have made the supreme sacrifice for our nation’s freedom.

Flags may be purchased to honor the memory of veterans or current service members. To sponsor a $35 Field of Honor Flag, visit the ASOM Gift Store.

May 25 is 4th Friday. Starting at 6 p.m. downtown, there will be big-band music at the Headquarters Library and the opening of the “Dance of Art in India” exhibit at Cape Fear Studios. Saturday, May 26, Spring Lake’s Memorial Day Tribute begins with a parade at 10 a.m. at Veterans Park at Ruth and Main streets. Soldiers from Fort Bragg will participate in the ceremony.

Monday, May 27, the U.S. Special Forces Command Memorial Day service is at 10 a.m., at Memorial Wall, United States Army Special Operations Command. 

Also on May 27, join the Fort Bragg Chapter of Wear Blue: Run to Remember at the Memorial Day event to be held at the Jordon Soccer Complex on Treetop Drive in Fayetteville. This event begins with a Circle of Remembrance ceremony, when the names of fallen service members are spoken aloud. Afterward, the group unites as a living memorial for the fallen service members with a self-paced run or walk.

Hope Mills has long paid tribute to fallen members of the military on Memorial Day. The tribute will take place May 27, at the war memorial located adjacent to the Hope Mills Recreation Center on Rockfish Road at 4 p.m. Several groups and organizations will take part in the ceremony, and the general public is invited to attend.

Bishop wins 9th District Republican Party primary

04DanBishopMecklenburg County State Sen. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., won the makeover 9th Congressional District Republican primary election. The May 14 special primary came three months after state election officials threw out the November 2018 election, which was marred by fraud allegations in Bladen and Robeson counties.

Half of Cumberland County is in the 9th District. Bishop will face Democrat Dan McCready and two third-party candidates Sept. 10 in what’s expected to be the nation’s most closely watched special election. The district has been without a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since the first of the year. A Republican has held the seat, which has changed over time, since the 1960s. Bishop defeated nine other Republican Party candidates.

“Dan McCready went through two elections without telling anyone where he stood on anything — that ends now,” Bishop told supporters.

In a statement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fired back, noting Bishop was the architect of House Bill 2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” and heir to what it called Republican election fraud.

Bragg Boulevard intersection change

Construction of the new Rowan Street railroad bridges is resulting in a new traffic pattern west of the overpasses. Bragg Boulevard is being rerouted to intersect with Murchison Road and Rowan Street.

The change was made this month while construction of the roadway continues. Another new section of the roadway will redirect Murchison Road to make for a smoother transformation. The change cuts off a historic service station now being used as a used car lot. It was the only building in the vicinity preserved because of its historic significance.

City Manager Doug Hewett said the city hopes to acquire and restore the property. The old section of the boulevard between Rowan Street and the North Carolina Veterans Park will be converted into a cul-de-sac, Hewett said.

The $36 million project is an initiative of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which replaces the structurally obsolete bridge along NC 24-210 that passed over Hillsboro Street, the CSX Railroad and the Norfolk Southern Railroad in downtown Fayetteville. Construction is scheduled for completion in November.

New PWC electricity rates now in effect

Fayetteville Public Works Commission has implemented time-of-use rates for residential and small commercial electric customers. PWC says on its website that the new rates are in keeping with the way the utility purchases power from Duke Energy — at higher rates during peak hours, when consumers typically use more power. 

Rates for electricity used during off-peak hours will be 30% lower than during peak times. Peak hours vary depending on the time of year.

From April-October, they are from 3-7 p.m., weekdays. Winter peak hours between November and March are from 6-10 a.m., Monday through Friday.

PWC said its average residential customer uses 1,017 kilowatt hours of electricity each month; 21% during peak hours and 79% during off-peak hours. Customers can save money by adjusting their daily weekday routine and shifting more of their electrical use to the off-peak times of day.

PWC suggests customers use toaster ovens, crockpots and microwaves when cooking. They use less energy than the stove or oven. Always take care when cooking. It is the No. 1 cause of house fires in the United States.

Official I.D. cards are now available to everyone

North Carolina citizens whose driver’s licenses or permits are suspended or revoked can now receive state-issued identification cards from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. 

D.M.V. began the process this month of issuing identification cards to residents with revoked, suspended, canceled or disqualified driver’s licenses. The General Assembly passed the law during the 2018 session.

State-issued identification cards can be used as a form of photo identification. They do not authorize holders to drive. DMV will mail identification cards to individuals after the it receives the seized or surrendered licenses. There is no charge. The ID card issuance is not retroactive and applies to driver’s licenses that were surrendered starting May 1.

Fox bites mom and son

A rabid fix bit a local woman and her son last week. The State Public Health Lab in Raleigh confirmed the fox that bit two people May 13 has rabies. The incident occurred at a home on Christina Street off Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville. The victims were not identified by authorities.

Animal Control responded to the scene to investigate. Officers said a growling fox approached three adults sitting on the front porch of their home and bit a mother and son before another son removed the fox from the porch without being bitten.

Animal Control officers who responded were able to locate and secure the fox. Officials said the animal died while being transported to the Animal Control facility. The two victims sought treatment at the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center’s emergency room and are receiving post-rabies exposure treatment. This is the first case of rabies in Cumberland County in 2019.

Photo: Dan Bishop

Downtown parking a challenge

07parkingDowntown parking during Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball games is not the issue that a lot of people thought it would be — except for some employees of center-city restaurants. Many wait staffers have complained that paying to park in city lots is causing them a financial hardship.

“It’s a problem that we didn’t have before (the existence of) this much (parking) demand downtown,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said.

During home games, the city has been charging $10 for people to park in city lots. Private property owners charge as much as $20 for special event parking. City Council cannot regulate private lots but has agreed to reduce the fee restaurant workers pay to $5 if they’ll use the Donaldson Street parking lot, which has 167 spaces.

City officials are now having to deal with these unintended consequences. Some restauranteurs have also complained that the $10 parking fee is causing people who are not going to ballgames to think twice about dining downtown. “We hope that what we are proposing ... would give the business owners and the employees who work at the restaurants some real options for parking in the interim until we come back with a larger and more comprehensive parking management program late in 2019 (or) early in 2020,” City Manager Doug Hewett said.

Consultants hired by the city have made numerous recommendations for modernizing downtown parking. Jon Martens of Walker Consultants said the city should hire a parking manager to keep tabs on issues that might arise.

The $10 special event parking fee at city-managed lots takes effect two hours before the games begin, which on weekdays is 7 p.m. Even the Franklin Street parking deck everyday fee of 50 cents an hour with a maximum of $4 a day goes up to $10 during baseball games. On-street parking is free, but those spaces are the first to be taken.

“We don’t want people not to come downtown for any reason,” Colvin said.

Reducing the fee to $5 for downtown workers was the suggestion of Fayetteville Traffic Engineer Lee Jernigan. “My recommendation is that downtown employment be validated by the Cool Spring Downtown District after which the city would work ... to issue parking permits that reduce the event parking fee to $5,” Jernigan’s memo stated.

City Councilman Jim Arp said the city needs to do a better job accommodating the disabled. Handicapped parking is currently provided at city lots behind City Hall. That’s almost two blocks from the entrance to Segra Stadium. “For many of our citizens, that’s a long walk,” Arp said. He initially opposed the use of shuttles but now says a shuttle from Franklin Street to the stadium is an idea worth considering so the elderly and disabled don’t have to walk.

Detailed parking information is available at www.Fayettevillenc.gov and on the city’s smart phone app.

Combined 911 call center proposed

06CallUnknowns are driving local government officials to meet a deadline that could yield a state grant to help fund a joint 911 call center. Subcommittees of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners and Fayetteville City Council agree that co-locating a new emergency communications center is a good idea. But it’s an expensive undertaking that could cost tens of millions of dollars.

County government is the lead agency in the grant acquisition, and Deputy County Manager Tracy Jackson told committee members he can’t say how much a grant from the state 911 Board might be. He made clear that initial cost estimates to acquire, renovate and equip the facility for $30 million are obsolete.

Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon said the county will move forward to develop the call center with or without the city’s participation or a grant from Raleigh. The county acquired a building at 500 Executive Place for the communications center for $5 million. City council members Kathy Jensen, Ted Mohn and Larry Wright met with County Commissioners Glenn Adams, Marshall Faircloth and Jimmy Keefe May 6 to hash out details of a proposed interlocal contract to co-locate their separate operations.

“The spirit is to forge an agreement,” Faircloth said. Subcommittee members agree that working together would reduce renovation and operation costs for the city and county. They said the hope is to one day consolidate the 911 call centers. 

City council and county commissioners need to approve the agreement this month before a grant application is submitted. Council member Kathy Jensen said that dealing with unknowns will be difficult for the other seven members of city council.

It’s unclear what chances a grant application to the state would have even if it’s agreed to locally. Mayor Pro Tem Mohn suggested operations should move forward without seeking an unknown grant.

The agreement discussed by city and county officials said the two governments would co-locate their 911 operations “with the mutual intent to fully consolidate in the future.”

“Even though it’s going to be expensive,” Faircloth said, “it won’t be as expensive as two separate facilities.”

The pending agreement does not specify whether the city or county will be responsible for management. It says only that “each party’s respective 911 director and employees will be subject to its own personnel policies and procedures.”

“Good faith and good will and a fair shake is what we’re agreeing to,” Councilman Larry Wright said.

County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe noted that a consolidated 911 center has been discussed for 30 years. “We have an opportunity,” he said. “This is as close as we’ve ever come.”

Cumberland County’s emergency communications center is in cramped quarters in the basement of the law enforcement center on Dick Street. It has been considered obsolete for many years. The city of Fayetteville’s 911 center is on the second floor of City Hall. Since the terror attacks of 2001, new emergency communications facilities are expected to be secure facilities away from downtown centers of government.

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