Boutique Longleaf Hotel to replace Raleigh’s Days Inn

Amy Horsfield By Amy Horsfield
15 January 2019 | Updated 15 January 2019

US: The Raleigh's Days Inn hotel in North Carolina is to be renovated into a 57-room boutique hotel.

According to Wake County property records, Raleigh development group Loden Properties bought the .75-acre hotel property for $5 million, plus another $1.5 million for the neighbouring restaurant parcel. Loden Properties is owned by Russ Jones and Henry Ward, who teamed with investors Michael and Andrew Sandman.

Russ Jones said: "I have been looking at this property for about 10 to 15 years and have chased it, although not in a very aggressive way, and tried to contact the owner in the past. We finally made contact late last spring."

Loden Properties has developed several hotels throughout the Triangle and manages them through its related Davidson and Jones Hotel Corp. The company currently manages the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, The Aloft hotel in downtown Durham and the Hampton Inn and Suites on Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.

The Longleaf Hotel will also feature an adjourning restaurant.

The new restaurant, (ish) Delicatessen, is from Matt Fern, a veteran of Raleigh's food and beverage scene, who was the beverage director of Ashley Christensen's AC Restaurants.

When discussing the name of the restaurant, Fern said: "It's a play on Jewish, sort of Italian, sort of Jewish deli. Delicatessen is such a strong word. We all think we know what it means, we all have different deli experiences growing up."

He added: "We want it to be something really informal and playful, allowing us a lot of creative freedoms, but to be able to riff on the classic deli dishes and be able to throw the South into the mix as well."

The deli will be built in a stand-alone building next to the hotel, formerly the NC Deli. Fern plans to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner service.

He said: "I don't think independent hotels at the quality level we are bringing survive without a dynamic food and beverage programme. At a typical select hotel 90 percent (of revenue) comes from rooms. At a vibrant, boutique hotel it can drop to a ratio of 60/40 rooms to food or even 50/50. On some level we are competing with all of the product in the market ... We are going after the experiential traveller. Five years ago would have been an even better (time to buy), but now anytime is good timing for core downtown real estate. Probably now more than ever, this area is coming into its own. People probably don't understand how close you are to the museum and Glenwood South, which might have felt disconnected three years ago, but you see what is happening with Smokey Hollow and you realise it's only two blocks away."

Loden has invested heavily in the northern section of downtown in the past year. Last year, the company bought the declining Gateway Plaza Shopping Centre off Capital Boulevard.

Jones said: "We see this whole northern (section of downtown) as overlooked. I mean it is a government office area, so no wonder it has felt isolated."

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