Planned purchase, demolition of RTP hotel a sign of ‘new days’

Oct. 21, 2013 @ 06:31 PM

The foundation that manages the nearly 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park is planning to buy a hotel originally built in 1972 that’s in one of three areas targeted for redevelopment in the park.

On Park Drive near the foundation’s headquarters, the Radisson Hotel started as the Governor’s Inn, according to information from the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina. It’s been a long-time meeting place in the park.

Foundation President and CEO Bob Geolas said the foundation plans to buy the hotel, and then to demolish it. He said foundation officials knew it was for sale, and didn’t want to see it get sold and turned into a “lesser brand.”

“It’s really become an eyesore for a lot of people; it sort of represents the past, it doesn’t show well, and we felt nothing could be a stronger sign of new days to come at the Research Triangle Park than purchasing that, and taking it down,” Geolas said.

The foundation has not closed on the purchase, but he said it’s expected to be finalized in the next couple of months. It already owns the land on which the buiding sits.

Before the foundation takes ownership, he said the hotel will go through a closing-down period. Geolas said plans for the property will be made later.

 “It’s like anything else - over the years…more full-service hotels, different kinds of hotels, had grown up around it,” Geolas said. “For a lot of people that visit the park, they don’t even stay there,” he added. “We just felt that it was something that needed to happen as we think about how we want the park to be more competitive to maintain its global brand.”

Foundation officials are focused on another one of the three areas targeted for redevelopment – 50 acres near Cornwallis Road and Davis Drive, Geolas said.

According to information from a foundation spokeswoman, the site is seen as potentially holding 1.5 million square feet of development made up of 650,000 square feet of office space, 200,000 square feet of retail space, 250 hotel rooms, and 300 residential units.

Geolas said foundation officials are working on land acquisition and infrastructure aspects of that effort.

The targeted area of redevelopment that includes the Radisson also includes Park Center, an office complex that has been largely vacant. Earlier this year, Park Center was put up for auction, but Geolas said there has been no change in ownership.

The redevelopment effort has been launched to try to make the business park more appealing to a future generation of businesses, and also to retain existing tenants.

“This is a new day for the foundation as we (move forward with) redevelopment,” Geolas said. “We have to look at new models and opportunities that will allow us to reshape the park so it’s more competitive and a global brand, this a way forward for that.”