When Allied DevCorp, a registered LLC, obtained ownership of the historic Colonial Inn property on Jan. 8, 2018, there was a collective sigh of relief in Hillsborough.
Passersby will note that the construction team is making significant progress on renovating the building. Still, there is no timeline for when the Inn might be open again.
Allied DevCorp, which operates in North Carolina with its main office in Durham, took ownership of the property in 2018 from Francis Henry after a decade and a half. The LLC invested $800,000 to purchase the Colonial Inn. At the time, Hillsborough mayor Tom Stevens told the News of Orange that he was happy with the way proceedings were going with the transfer of ownership.
“I’m very pleased that it appears the closing went smoothly,” Stevens said in January 2018. “That place is special to many, many people that have memories and family events tied up into it.”
Since then, the new ownership has gotten the ball rolling to renovate the building. In September 2018, Allied DevCorp rezoned the property to Central Commercial Special Use from Residential-20 at its location at 153 West King Street, after confirmation was granted by the Town Board of Commissioners.
In addition to gaining that approval from the town, a special use permit was awarded for a bar, restaurant, hotel services and event spaces for weddings, funerals and other types of gatherings.
The following month, on Oct. 29, the ownership group was issued a Certificate of Appropriateness by the Historic District Commission, a document that was needed to begin work on the exterior of the building.
“So the Historic District Commission basically reviewed it to make sure it’s in harmony with the special character of the Historic District of Hillsborough and so they’ve already reviewed those changes and determined the changes that they submitted would be harmonious with the character of the district,” said Justin Snyder, Town of Hillsborough Planner.
A potential concern that citizens might have regarding the renovation of the Colonial Inn on West King Street has to do with the traffic delays the project could cause. However, Town of Hillsborough Public Space Manager Stephanie Trueblood does not foresee there being any traffic delays due to the construction.
“I really don’t anticipate there being any extreme impacts on traffic with the Colonial Inn,” Trueblood said. “It’s a fairly small site and a small development project. There may be from time to time deliveries that have to be made in front of the inn, and so traffic will have to be routed with a lane shift or possibly flaggers but I don’t anticipate that it will really lead to any backups.”
As far as the work done on the building itself, Snyder believes the ownership group will keep with the design of Colonial Inn by having wood on the exterior walls while maintaining the same paint colors. There could be work done on the front sign of the building, with the words on the sign now difficult to read due to the aging of the landmark.
“If they can’t refurbish the front sign, they’re going to replace it with a sign of the same exact materials, same exact dimensions as the one that’s been hanging there for several years,” Snyder said.
Work is also being done on the outdoor gathering space that was proposed, along with a new building in the back that is similar to the original building and will have similar materials, according to Snyder.
“I think it’s going to blend well with the original building [that stood on] that site,” he said.
There is certainly still work to be done on the project but the early results are encouraging for a building that Snyder says is “basically a centerpiece of downtown Hillsborough.”
The Colonial Inn is not just one of the oldest buildings in town, originally constructed in 1838, it is also one of the most recognized and respected. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and it was classified as a structure of statewide significance by the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office.
Having the building return to its former glory will not only positively affect the town’s economy, but it will also “be a big boost to community morale as far as getting that building back to a functioning piece of society in Hillsborough,” Snyder believes.
With the renovation project well under way, the Colonial Inn will continue to be a landmark of the Town of Hillsborough, and North Carolina, for years to come.