Hopewell wants in on Inn

City sets hear­ing Tues­day to pur­chase Riverview Inn prop­erty for $1.1 mil­lion, pos­si­bly re­de­velop it

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Atkin­son As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor

HOPEWELL — The city is try­ing to buy some river­front prop­erty where a mo­tel now stands not so much to get into the hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness but as a po­ten­tial in­vest­ment for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

On Tues­day, City Coun­cil will hold a pub­lic hear­ing to hear a pro­posal to pur­chase the Riverview Inn & Suites, lo­cated on state Route 10 at the Ap­po­mat­tox River. As­sis­tant City Man­ager Charles F. Dane said the goal is to gain con­trol of the prop­erty and have it as a car­rot to dan­gle in front of prospec­tive de­vel­op­ers.

Hopewell cur­rently has an op­tion in place to buy the mo­tel, which is ad­ja­cent to The Boathouse restau­rant, Dane said.

The build­ing, for­merly known as the Ever­green Mo­tel, is not go­ing to be torn down right away, Dane said, nor will any of the oc­cu­pants who pay by the week or month to live there be evicted. The quick turn­around is nec­es­sary, he said, be­cause of ru­mors that an­other party might be in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing it and keep­ing it as is.

“We don’t want to own it, we don’t want to run it,” Dane said. If Hopewell is able to pur­chase the prop­erty, Dane said the city would con­tract with Riverview’s cur­rent op­er­a­tor to lease it back to the op­er­a­tor for one year, with fu­ture six-month op­tions, while the area is mar­keted.

Dane said if an­other busi­ness were to pur­chase it be­fore the city, “it could be an­other 15 or 20 years” be­fore the city would have an op­por­tu­nity to buy and re­de­velop it.

Ac­cord­ing to the pub­lic no­tice of the hear­ing, cit­i­zens are be­ing asked to show up “if they re­ally wish for the cur­rent mo­tel to cease to ex­ist and be re­de­vel­oped into an­other use.”

City staff is rec­om­mend­ing coun­cil ap­prove the deal “as a much-needed change to sub­stan­dard prop­erty along one of the city’s pri­mary en­trance­ways, as an op­por­tu­nity for fur­ther re­de­vel­op­ment along the

cor­ri­dor, and as a pub­lic safety en­hance­ment. ”The city claims that more than 1,000 pub­lic-safety calls have been made to Riverview in the past five years.

Hopewell is in the midst of work­ing to re­de­velop its Ap­po­mat­tox River coast­line as a pop­u­lar vis­i­tor desti­na­tion. In ad­di­tion to The Boathouse, there are also plans to de­velop the $39 mil­lion Fran­cisco Land­ing project that will have mixed use of busi­ness and res­i­den­tial spots, as well as boat ac­cess and a “green space.” Coun­cil gave the of­fi­cial go-ahead for that project at its Nov. 27 meet­ing.

Ru­mors about the mo­tel’s fu­ture have been cir­cu­lat­ing for some time now. When The Boathouse opened in the for­mer Nav­i­ga­tor’s Den restau­rant site in July

2017, spec­u­la­tion im­me­di­ately be­gan on what would hap­pen with Riverview.

Dane said the city has wanted to buy the prop­erty for sev­eral years now. At one point, the ask­ing price was $4 mil­lion, but it has since dropped to $2.5 mil­lion and now the cur­rent $1.1 mil­lion op­tion.

A mes­sage was left by The Progress-In­dex for Bhu­pen­dra Pa­tel, Riverview’s owner, for com­ment about the pro­posal. That mes­sage has not been re­turned.

City Coun­cil’s meet­ing is set for 7:30 p.m. Tues­day in coun­cil cham­bers at the Mu­nic­i­pal Build­ing down­town.

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