Fayetteville’s historic Prince Charles Hotel may one day be brought back to life as a dynamic downtown centerpiece. For many years, the once-prosperous hospitality property has been anything but. Several attempts at repurposing the eight-story building have failed. A Durham developer, Prince Charles Holdings, believes it can breathe new life into the 90-year-old structure. It purchased the building and adjoining parking lot at auction in 2014 for $200,000. Michael Cohen, an advocate of historic preservation, is the lead investor for the project.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to bring one of Fayetteville’s most iconic buildings back to life and contribute to the revitalization process already underway in downtown Fayetteville,” Cohen said. He’s awaiting final approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a low interest loan to begin the work of refurbishing the once proud hotel. The firm hopes to begin reconstruction this summer.
Fayetteville City Council believes the repurposed hotel building, along with an adjacent $33 million minor league baseball stadium, will be the economic catalyst for $100 million in economic investments on only nine acres of inner-city property. “That whole area around the hotel is going to be developed into retail and commercial space,” said Mayor Nat Robertson. “It will also include additional apartments and a hotel,” he added. Planning is nearing completion for construction of the stadium and the property around it.
Almost unnoticed has been the redevelopment of a couple dozen heretofore vacant buildings in the downtown area. The first block of Person Street has come to life with historic updating. Along the south side of West Russell Street, smaller buildings have been repurposed into offices. Larger commercial buildings left vacant for decades have been restored, cleaned up and reoccupied. The Moore Building at 215 Williams Street has spawned investor interest in a once-impoverished section of town. It houses two or three small businesses and a large, open social hall. Down the street, at 159 Maxwell Street, the Greater Fayetteville Chamber occupies a building built as a warehouse more than a century ago. “It was put to many uses over the years, and before being occupied by the Chamber, it was Zimmerman Millwork and Cabinetry,” said City Historian Bruce Daws.
At 112-114 Gillespie, Street, Sherefe Mediterranean Restaurant used to be Fayetteville Drug Company before it closed many years ago. It was built in 1891, according to Daws. Historic tax credits assisted property owners in making financial investment that made these facilities useable once again. The investments were good for local government, too, since they enhanced the tax value of the properties.
Of particular interest, on Bragg Boulevard near W. Rowan Street just outside downtown, is a former gas station, which is now a used car lot. “It was built as a service station by the Rankin Family after World War II,” said Daws. Because of its historic significance, the N.C. Department of Transportation spared the building while demolishing everything around it to build the new Rowan Street bridges and realign Bragg Boulevard, Murchison Road and Rowan Street. “We hope to acquire the building and restore its historic significance,” said City Manager Doug Hewett.