Let's start back in yesteryear (at this point) - A reader asked for my thoughts on the reports of David Diaz leaving DRI, Inc. for a position in Raleigh, NC.
Do I blame him? Or envy him. I look at it this way. He is going to be charged with doing the same basic thing he was doing here, although I can bet you (considering Raleigh is already one of the premier cities of the south) he will not find the same difficulties there as he did here. Let's see - more money, a bigger budget, and a city actually willing to work with you?
Heck - I'd be there in short order myself. However, according to the Roanoke Times article: "His departure may coincide with a new marketing strategy for Roanoke's urban core."
New marketing strategy? What strategy? You mean the whole "Roanoke is one of the top places in the country to retire" thing? In case the city has not noticed - the new retirees, the Baby Boom gang - they are not exactly shuffling off into the sunset. They tend to be quite active, and look for active things to do. Not just a place to sleep, eat, and read the paper. They also like things that they liked where they are moving from... Population of Roanoke right now - Im going to guess, informally and based on what I've seen - 30-35% out of town born, mostly from the North.
And growing rapidly.
Anyway, moving on.. The historically accurate Patrick Henry Hotel hit the newspapers with a Fire Marshall's report that either they install sprinkler systems soon, or they close. And for a place that cannot rent a room anymore, and has probably rented one a month since 2000 (and from what I hear, it's the same room each time - and it's barely cleaned), is operating at a "loss" and really keeps the power on for a few functions a month.. well, this just goes to show what kind of a state the city is in.
Even the ownership of the building is beyond troubled - near-foreclosures, legal troubles (before the first nail has been paid for at that), money troubles... the list just builds. And all for one of the most important locations in all of Roanoke. The only TRUE downtown Hotel.
Sorry folks, you can try to call the Hotel Roanoke downtown, but it's on the other side of the tracks. With nothing else around it. Not even a damn CVS. Some economic benefit to the community over there huh?
In other, more level-headed cities - when they say Hotel Downtown, they mean it. Among and between all the other downtown amenities and attractions - there's the hotel. Not over an enclosed; but unheated or air conditioned bridge where you get the thrill of the russian-roulette escalators, a 2 story walk, or the elevators. That's not downtown by anyones definition of the word.
The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center is a great concept, but the promised returns have yet to be realized. The city passed on the partnership to get the Patrick Henry back up and running.
Well, you make your choices. And now, sources reveal something not discussed in the Times article. Affirmative Equities Co. has a history that has not been talked about. They have a track record for buying properties, and flipping them.
So what's the real story of the Patrick Henry? The premier hotel downtown, the grandest lady of them all - is a tumbling wreck. In any other city, EVEN Lynchburg - this hotel would be restored and marketed properly. Here, we are content to wait and see if it ever becomes a retirement property.
Oh I know I've only touched a tenth of the stories I missed, but there will be more.
There will be more.. oh yes.