There may be a change coming soon for the historic Colonial Inn on West King Street.
Hillsborough attorney Sam Coleman sparked a lot of speculation this week when he appeared in a photo on the Hillsborough Police Department’s Facebook page with a truckload of toys for the department’s giveaway and a sign wishing residents peace and love “from the (future) Colonial Inn.”
Coleman, with the Hillsborough firm of Coleman, Gledhill, Hargrave, Merritt and Rainsford, was mum about the photo until late Thursday night, when he re-posted it on the Facebook page for the Save the Colonial Inn group.
Coleman, in his comment, confirmed there is a “serious buyer of the Colonial Inn who is excited to have the property under contract and plans to close on it in the near future.”
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“While I am not yet free discuss many details, the buyers plan to preserve the oldest (two story) part of the Inn as part of their renovation/rebuild and operate it as a boutique hotel/restaurant/bar/small event space,” he said. “At the appropriate time (and hopefully in the near future) the buyers are excited to share a more detailed presentation of their plans and are both eager and committed to soliciting feedback from the community.”
The 10,000-square-foot Colonial Inn, built in 1838, has been under contract since early November. Once a hotel for travelers, and later a popular restaurant, the inn has fallen into disrepair since 2001 when owner Francis Henry bought the property at auction.
Henry has since wrestled with the town over repairs and how he could use the property. The town filed an eminent-domain action in July 2014 but reached a mediated agreement in April that gives Henry time to sell the inn to new owners.
Seagle and Associates is advertising the Colonial Inn for $875,000 – 53 percent more than Henry paid. The inn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is considered a structure contributing to Hillsborough’s historic district.
The town still could buy the property if Henry doesn’t find a suitable buyer by April 9, 2018.
Timothy Allen, with Seagle and Associates, said this week he does not know when the pending deal will go through. He has declined to name the potential buyers – their names would become public when they close on the deal – but praised what they could bring to the table.
State and federal tax credits are currently available for the renovation and repair of historic properties, although the federal historic tax credit, established in the 1970s, could be eliminated under the Republicans’ tax reform plan. That credit allows developers to deduct up to 20 percent of their eligible expenses for historic property projects.
“I think this whole thing’s going to be great for the neighborhood down in Hillsborough, and I know it’s going to sound crazy, but I think it’s going to be good for the state of North Carolina,” Seagle said in November.