Lake Norman & Mooresville

Statesville studies restoring downtown hotel

Charlotte developer Stephen Barker says the combination of the Vance Hotel, right, and the Statesville Civic Center across the street could complement each other, serving as both a destination hotel and place for center visitors to stay.
Charlotte developer Stephen Barker says the combination of the Vance Hotel, right, and the Statesville Civic Center across the street could complement each other, serving as both a destination hotel and place for center visitors to stay. DAVE VIESER

By a 5-3 decision, Statesville’s city decided to begin exploratory discussions toward bringing a hotel back to the city’s downtown with Stephen Barker of the Charlotte-based Catellus Group.

Barker was one of three developers who responded to the city’s call for redeveloping the majestic, five-story Vance Hotel across from City Hall. The hotel has been vacant for seven years.

The other two proposals under consideration involved rebuilding the property for apartments. Both Mayor Costi Kutteh and Councilman Michael Schlesinger said that they would like to find out, once and for all, whether a hotel was feasible. “Personally I’d love to see a hotel again downtown but we have other quality hotels in the city and we need to know if Statesville could support another one,” Schlesinger said.

Several councilmen disagreed, suggesting instead that the city commence discussions with Richard Angino of Third Wave Housing, which proposed converting the hotel into apartments. “In my opinion, we simply don’t have the traffic for a hotel downtown,” said Councilman Jarrod Phifer. “It would be a waste of time.”

The hotel option received the nod for a 30-day feasibility study.

Barker feels that the hotel concept has potential: “I believe the best opportunity for redevelopment of the hotel is for it to remain a hotel. Vance’s storied past and famed clientele make it an integral part of Statesville.”

He said the historical context and legacy of Statesville would be a large benefit to a hotel that ranks among the greatest historic hotels in the area, such as the Dunhill in Charlotte and the Empire in Salisbury.

Barker envisions a facility of 80 rooms with an added parking deck. “The combination of the Vance Hotel and the Statesville Civic Center across the street could complement each other, serving as both a destination hotel as well as place for center visitors to stay,” he said.

The vote, taken June 15, is the next step in a process which began over a year ago in the hopes of selecting a developer interested in the hotel property. The authorization calls for a report back to the council within 30 days according to Centralina Council of Government Executive Director Jim Prosser, who has assisted the city in the process.

The 72,000-square-foot Vance Hotel welcomed millions of visitors from 1922 to 2008. The facility also served for a time as a retirement home, and was used in several major movies.

Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Dave? Email him at davidvieser@gmail.com.

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