10 to Watch in 2019: Britt Weaver of Empire Hotel
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Job: Principal at Black Point Investments
Favorite book: “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson
Who would play you in a movie? Daniel Craig. “I see the resemblance.”
What would you want for your last meal? “Black coffee, mangos, key lime pie and a great cocktail make any meal better.”
What is one thing Rowan County should focus on for 2019? Getting more positive stories out there and Main Street shopping
Who will you be watching in 2019? “Jerome Powell, the Fed chairman, is the person whom I most closely follow relative to my work.”
What is your reaction to being named as one of the “10 to Watch”? “I’m a little surprised, because I’m not from Salisbury. It’s a point of validation of the project, always been. It’s an honor. I really like Salisbury. What better place than Salisbury?”
On the 200 block of South Main Street, there is a buzz similar to what was perhaps felt when the Empire Hotel first opened in 1859.
Vacant for years, the hotel drew interest in redevelopment coming and going. Then Black Point Investments came and stayed, working through hurdles with financing, historic credits and parking. Britt Weaver, the developer, is leading the way.
Throughout 2018, Weaver made himself known to the public, hosting open houses and attending city meetings.
“There has been nothing but good experience with the community even when there has been discourse,” Weaver said. “People want it; it’s very obvious. We want it.”
During conversations about downtown economic growth, revitalizing Main Street, and the Bell Tower Green Park and other projects, the Empire Hotel is often brought up.
The talk has quieted down since the city approved entering into a lease for the hotel project and making the hotel and former Block-Montgomery Ward Department Store a landmark destination in August.
The project has since been approved by the Local Government Commission. It also was approved for North Carolina historic tax credit and landmark status. BPI is working to secure financing through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Weaver has called the process “whack a mole at the fair,” with one portion completed and another immediately popping up.
For 2019, Weaver’s main challenge will be completing the Empire Hotel project.
“Everything has to line up perfectly,” he said.
– Liz Moomey