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Aloft Sets Sights on Hillsborough Street

The developers for the NC State Endowment Fund-owned Hillsborough Street retail center have selected the Starwood Worldwide-affiliated Aloft brand for the 135-room boutique hotel that they will build next year across the street from the Memorial Tower.

Two years ago, Bell View Partners of Raleigh and the Bernstein Companies of Washington, D.C., were selected to develop the 1.3-acre tract of prime real estate between Enterprise Street and Maiden Lane that is the current home of longtime tenants Sadlack’s Heroes and Schoolkids Records, both of which will move to new locations.

In July, the Endowment Fund signed a 50-year lease with Bell View, giving the developer an option to purchase the hotel site at any point during the lease. Plans call for construction to begin next spring and for the hotel to open in mid-2015.

The hotel will have retail shops on the ground floor facing Hillsborough Street and nearly 100 parking spaces behind. It will feature a second-floor lobby and reception area and veranda seating overlooking the Belltower. The hotel will include an art feature by renowned local artist Thomas Sayre visually representing the sound waves made by bells. Sayre is the creator of the Shimmer Wall at the Raleigh Convention Center.

This will be Aloft’s third Triangle location. The upscale, modern brand opened its first local venue in downtown Chapel Hill in 2010, with plans for another between the Durham Performing Arts Center and Durham Bulls Athletic Park announced just two weeks ago.

Renovations Galore

The planned hotel on Hillsborough Street will be another part of the renovations along the campus’ northern boundary, which began in 2010 when the city of Raleigh launched the first $10-million phase of the Hillsborough Street Renovation Project, which included traffic circles, underground utilities,  a new median, a reduction from four lanes to two and overall streetscape improvements.

The second phase of the project, which will continue the renovation with two more rotaries at Gardner and Rosemary streets and additional improvements, was approved on Tuesday as part of Raleigh’s $75-million traffic bonds.

A new large-scale apartment complex recently opened to the east at Hillsborough and Morgan streets.

In July, North Hills developer John Kane took over plans to build the Stanhope Center, a block-wide student housing complex to the west at Concord Street and Friendly Drive. The complex will include various retail centers, restaurants and a five-story apartment complex in the vicinity of another recently developed privately owned and operated student-housing center, Valentine Commons.