Developers plan to incorporate a new hotel into the Coastline Conference and Event Center in downtown Wilmington, according to a news release Thursday.
Poteat Hospitality Associates LLC of Laurinburg and Big Dawg LLC, the operator of the Best Western Coastline Inn in Wilmington, have been approved for a 125-room Aloft Hotel franchise by Starwood Hotels, said the news release from Jim Quinn, a broker with Creative Commercial Properties. Construction of the $25 million project is expected to begin in early 2016, according to the release.
The proposed hotel would rise six stories above the historic Coastline Railroad Warehouse building, include an outdoor pool and feature a rooftop courtyard with a fire pit and a bistro. The ground floor is planned to contain a fitness center and full-service restaurant that would also cater meetings. The Coastline center currently has about 13,000 square feet of total meeting space, and at least 7,000 square feet of that will remain available for meetings as part of the hotel plan, Quinn said.
The existing 54-room Best Western will remain in operation. Wilmington mayor Bill Saffo said the additional visitor accommodations will be welcome.
“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,” Saffo said in the release.
The newly announced project is the latest plan by a developer to add hotel rooms to downtown Wilmington. The estimated start time for construction on the Aloft Hotel coincides with that of the Wilmington Convention Center hotel, a 186-room Embassy Suites under development by Virginia-based Harmony Hospitality.
"It's going to help the whole market," said Brooks Johnson, director of development for Harmony Hospitality, when asked about the impact of the Aloft project on the Embassy Suites.
Sharing an example, Johnson described the effect a new Hilton had along the Virginia Beach oceanfront where Harmony already owned hotels.
"We thought it was a great. It was a really nice hotel, and it gave lift to the whole market," Johnson said.
Harmony Hospitality is planning an April 2017 opening for the Embassy Suites, Johnson said. The developers of the Aloft project have set a goal of opening for business in time for the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament in May 2017, the release said.
In addition to describing the hotel plans, Quinn's announcement said that the three-story, 9,000-square-foot historic Coastline Railroad freight building facing Nutt Street will be rehabilitated and be available for a restaurant or retailer. The upper level will be utilized for office or conference space.
The architectural firm for the new hotel is Isom Ham Design Group PA of Wilkesboro. Bob Ham, who has designed four hotels operated by Poteat Hospitality and more than 400 hotels in several states, will be in charge of the Aloft Project in Wilmington, the announcement said.
Poteat Hospitality currently operates eight hotels in North Carolina, and had submitted a proposal to the city of Wilmington last year to build a hotel on the site of the Water Street parking deck. Poteat outlined a plan for what would be a 130-room Residence Inn by Marriott, one of eight proposals the city considered for the riverfront redevelopment project. But in February, the City Council chose to negotiate with Chapel Hill-based East West Partners for a residential-commercial development instead.
Starwood Hotels operates many high-end hotels such as the Westin, the W and the Sheraton. It was recently announced that Marriott Hotels will purchase Starwood in 2016, Quinn's release said.