by Sam Hieb
Quaintance -Weaver Hotels–which owns and operates the Proximity and O.Henry hotels here in G’boro —is taking a pass on the historic R.J. Reynolds Building in downtown Winston-Salem:
After nearly a year of study, Greensboro-based Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels has decided the market is too soft to support the conversion of the 314,000-square-foot former office building to a hotel, in large part due to a lack of demand from corporate users.
“We decided we ought not go forward unless we can support our sort of emotional attachment to the building,” said Dennis Quaintance, CEO of Quaintance-Weaver. “The answer is we needed more people coming to town paying higher rates. … It was the corporate segment that was the weak segment that brought it under the threshold.”
I’m not sure what Mayor Allen Joines means when he told the Winston-Salem Journal the “project fell victim in part to the overall rate structure of local hotels ‘being kept artificially low.’” I realize we’re not necessarily talking an apples-to-apples comparison — the Biz Journal points out that average room rates in W-S run just over $75, while a rooms at the O.Henry and the Proximity run over $200. And Quaintance did say it was the soft corporate market that factored into its decision. City leaders say a renovated Benton Convention Center will help remedy that problem.
By the same token, does Quaintance’s pass in the W-S market not undermine the justification for Visit Winston-Salem president Richard Geiger’s $28k bonus?