One of Freeport’s oldest and most historic buildings is getting an overhaul. The Stephenson Hotel is undergoing a three million dollar renovation. It will become an as-yet-unnamed franchise hotel. City leaders say the hotel will have more of a luxury feel.
"That requires them to significantly upgrade the rooms, in some additional amenities. That includes a pool and making provisions as well as accommodating a Brass Rail Restaurant as part of their agreement with the city," Freeport Economic Development Foundation Member Bob Skurla says.
Freeport mayor George Gaulrapp said the new tenant will try to retain some of the old Freeport.
"It’s reminiscent that its taken off, but you know when they bring in a new franchise hotel like this, it'll work out fine. I'm sure they'll keep the old name in there somewhere to preserve some of the nostalgic value," Gaulrapp says.
And while the inside of the hotel may not look like much right now, Gaulrapp said eventually it'll be a major drawing point for out of town visitors.
"Currently, Freeport is more of a pass through town, not really much of a destination, but once we get the retail and the Raleigh development up, they'll see all the great accommodations we have," Gaulrapp says.
However, while city leaders are optimistic about the renovated hotel's potential impact, some local business owners do not share that optimism. They say they've been kept in the dark about the project... And are skeptical about how much it will impact them.