Alofts could land in Durham and Raleigh

The developers of two hotel projects in downtown Durham and another near downtown Raleigh are close to securing a commitment from the parent company of Aloft hotels to place the urban-influenced brand on their buildings.

Developers of the ATC East Hotel project planned adjacent to the Durham Performing Arts Center and the Bell View building in Raleigh that’s planned across from N.C. State University’s Bell Tower on Hillsborough Street are vying to finalize a deal with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, according to sources close to each of the projects.

Starwood opened the Aloft Chapel Hill Hotel in 2010, its first in the region since launching the brand in 2008, and was working with local hotel developers to build at least two others in the region when the financial meltdown forced projects to be shelved.

A hotel developer from Charlotte intends to open another Aloft hotel near Raleigh-Durham International Airport in 2014, but construction has yet to begin.

Mark Sherburne, general manager of Aloft Chapel Hill, says he has no insider knowledge of Starwood’s plans in the region, but he says he has been hearing talk about more Aloft properties coming through the pipeline.

“There have been discussions about others going in the Triangle area, including one near downtown Raleigh next to N.C. State’s campus, as well as in downtown Durham,” Sherburne says. “Aloft is a new and upcoming brand that seems to be spreading quickly. It’s very non-traditional in its look and feel, and people are gravitating toward it.”

In Durham, the owners of the American Tobacco Campus have teamed up with Davidson & Jones Hotel Corp. of Raleigh to put together a plan for a six-story hotel and apartment project that would wrap around the south and west sides of the DPAC building and its adjacent parking deck.

The group has hired Chapel Hill architect Phil Szostak, who led the design of the DPAC, to also lead the design of the ATC hotel and apartment buildings. “They’ve not given me permission to release any renderings, yet, but I am working on the project,” Szostak confirms.

Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capitol Broadcasting Co., which developed and owns most of American Tobacco Campus, in an email statement said they are still in due diligence and that he couldn’t talk details.

“Innovation was the watchword when the revival of the American Tobacco Campus began, and it remains our guiding principle,” Goodmon wrote. “We are in due diligence on projects that would enhance the campus’ reputation for customer satisfaction, stay true to our mission of innovation in creating a complete customer experience and serve the greater Durham and Triangle communities.”

In Raleigh, a group of local investors has created a partnership called Bell View Partners for the sole purpose of developing a 130-room hotel with 10,000 square feet of street-level retail space on land currently owned by N.C. State’s University Endowment Fund.

The university in 2011 selected the Bell View Partners team, which includes the Washington, D.C.-based development firm The Bernstein Companies, to develop a commercial-use building across from the Bell Tower on Hillsborough Street.

Mark Andrews with Bell View Partners says the property has been successfully rezoned, and he expects that the final paperwork for the hotel brand will be done in about 60 days.

“We’ve not signed anything, yet,” he says, while also declining to identify which hotel flag they are pursuing. Andrews says they hope they’ll be able to begin construction in the first half of 2014.

Arthor: Amanda Hoyle