The owners of an existing boutique hotel are planning more hospitality projects focused on downtown Wilmington, including another boutique hotel, this time on North Front Street.
Robert Rosenberg and Kaylie O’Connor, owners of The Hive at 505 N. Second St., bought the building at 216-220 N. Front St. for $2.75 million on Oct. 29, according to the deed. The seller was The Karma Building LLC.
Rosenberg said while he and business partner O’Connor are planning another boutique hotel at the more than 115-year-old North Front Street property, more details about the project will be revealed at a later date.
“We’re very bullish on downtown and growth in the market … We're really focusing on the hospitality and entertainment business in downtown Wilmington,” Rosenberg said.
The structure at 220 N. Front St. (which also holds the address 216 N. Front St.) was gutted and completely rehabilitated about seven years ago, opening in 2016 as a nonprofit museum Expo 216. The museum closed
in 2018 when previous owners Linda Look and partner Wade Hughes retired to Mexico, and the space was put up for lease.
Of the financing for the purchase by The Hive owners, Rosenberg said, “First Bank had a lot of confidence in us, and we’re very grateful that they are our lending partner on that.”
Rosenberg and O’Connor opened The Hive
, a 15-suite boutique hotel in two buildings, in 2019. In addition to the North Front Street project, they’re planning furnished long-term rental cottages on 8 acres near downtown in Castle Hayne, just off the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Rosenberg said.
“We’re finalizing site plans so we hope to submit for site plan review before the end of the year,” he said.
They also have a project in the planning stages at 717 Market St., intending to develop a hotel, coworking space and food and beverage options.
Meanwhile, The Hive has experienced an increase in visitors this year, thanks in part to film industry professionals staying there and performances at Live Oak Bank Pavilion and the Wilson Center.
Christian Cardamone, commercial real estate broker with Wilmington-based Keller Williams Innovate, represented Rosenberg and O’Connor in their purchase of 216 and 220 N. Front St.
Cardamone said demand for places to stay in downtown Wilmington has been on the rise.
He said, “We don't have a lot of options downtown, so introducing new ones is an asset that we have to have if we're going to continue to bring in amenities like Live Oak Bank Pavilion.”