One year after acquiring the former Hotel Lincoln developer Solomon Carter says he’s ready to move forward with redeveloping the 68-year old building.
Carter plans to transform the historic hotel at 400 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive in downtown east into a 13-unit apartment complex with 4,000-square feet of ground floor commercial space for a restaurant and art gallery.
Getting started with the ambitious project has taken longer than originally planned due to issues with the title that had to be resolved. The building was not actually owned by Brandon Dumas, the ousted Southern University vice chancellor who sold it to Carter, but by his father, Carter says.
Then, it took several months to receive historic building status from the National Historic Register, which Carter obtained in mid-August. Getting historic building status is necessary for the project to qualify for the state and federal historic building tax credits that will be used to finance the redevelopment.
Now, Carter says he’s ready to solicit bids from contractors interested in the project, which will entail redeveloping the 12,000-square-foot-former hotel, which has been abandoned since the early 1980s, into a multifamily complex.
The Hotel Lincoln was the marquis hotel for African-American guests to the city during the decades of segregation in the South. During its heyday the hotel hosted such luminaries as Nat King Cole, James Brown and Aretha Franklin.
Though the exterior of the building would suggest otherwise, Carter says the interior is in surprisingly good shape and he estimates the cost of the renovation will be about $1 million, not including the $400,000 he spent acquiring the building.
Carter has also started talking to potential restaurant tenants about leasing some of the 4,000-square-foot ground-floor space for a farm-to-table restaurant that serves local produce and healthy versions of soul food dishes.
“We want to bring back the Hotel Lincoln Dining Room with some kind of farm-to-table, seasonal menu, but with clean soul food, if you can do that,” Carter says. “We’d like to bring back that treasure for the city and the neighborhood.”
He also envisions a gallery in a smaller space on the ground floor, though no plans have been firmed up.
Carter is optimistic he can complete the project within about eight months of starting. Though financing is not secured, he says he has several viable options.