The Town of Hillsborough and the owners of the historic Colonial Inn on West King Street have agreed to settle an eminent domain proceeding filed last July by the town to acquire the historic building. Chuck Liddy, file photo cliddy@newsobserver.com
The Town of Hillsborough and the owners of the historic Colonial Inn on West King Street have agreed to settle an eminent domain proceeding filed last July by the town to acquire the historic building. Chuck Liddy, file photo cliddy@newsobserver.com

Orange County

Hillsborough gives owner time to sell historic Colonial Inn

May 10, 2017 04:00 PM

HILLSBOROUGH

The Town of Hillsborough has reached an agreement with the owners of the historic Colonial Inn that will settle an eminent domain case filed last year and allow the inn to be sold to new owners.

The deal was reached in mediation April 14, according to a town news release. The Hillsborough Board of Commissioners authorized the deal at an April 24 closed session and thanked owner Francis Henry for his help in coming up with a plan to preserve the inn, which dates to 1838, the release stated.

“We agree on many of the important things,” Mayor Tom Stevens said. “Specifically, we all want to see this important structure in Hillsborough restored and put to some use. I greatly appreciate the cooperation from Francis Henry in finding a way forward toward that goal.”

The town will drop an eminent domain action filed in July 2014 and give the owners time to sell the property at 153 W. King St. The town could buy the former inn if the current owners do not find a suitable buyer.

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Francis Henry

The town will get back its $250,000 deposit on the property — its estimated fair market value. The UNC School of Government’s Development Financial Initiative had estimated the cost of renovating the inn at $3 million.

The town can file for eminent domain again if the current or new owners fail to follow through on their end of the deal by April 9, 2018.

The deal comes after more than a decade of wrangling between the town and Henry over repairs to the aging building. Henry bought the property, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is considered a structure contributing to Hillsborough’s historic district, in 2001.

“It was good to see Mayor Stevens and Mr. Henry get to sit down and talk about the inn,” said attorney Matthew Suczynski, representing the owners. “After all these years, it was encouraging to see how much everyone involved cares for the inn and wants it to be restored.”

Town officials and the Colonial Inn owners also have agreed to talk about the deal in interviews on radio stations WCHL in Chapel Hill and WHUP in Hillsborough. The time and date of the interviews has not been scheduled.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

More information about the Colonial Inn