DURHAM — If it wasn’t for the growing need for parking downtown, the old Jack Tar Motor Lodge wouldn’t be re-opening Wednesday as a swanky, mid-century modern hotel.
It wasn’t even an active hotel when Jane and Greg Hills, who run Austin Lawrence Partners, first began looking around Durham 10 years ago for real estate opportunities.
At that time, the Hills, who were planning what would become the 27-story One City Center, were searching for additional property to provide parking for their planned tower, looking mainly at empty parking lots.
But the circa-1962 building across the street caught the couple’s eye.
And in 2014, the firm bought the building, with its four-level parking garage, for $5 million and started a $24 million renovation.
“I was very attracted to this building because of its architecture,” Jane Hills said. “I love, love mid-century modern. This building to me is really, very special. I kept walking around the block and around the block … thinking I have got to have this place.”
Now the building, whose interior decor matches its mid-century architecture, is set to become the first outpost of Dream Hotel Group’s new Unscripted Hotel line – featuring 74 rooms, a rooftop pool, coffee shop and space for planned restaurants, such as Pour Taproom, the Jack Tar Diner and Neomonde Mediterranean Deli.
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